Knockroe, county Kilkenny
Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland
A link through time
These two mystical European locations stand two hundred and fifteen miles apart, Knockroe is in county Kilkenny republic of Ireland and the other, Kilmartin is in Argyll, Scotland, about 15 miles south of Oban.
The reason I displaying these images in the same post is simply to highlight something that only occurred to me when one year I happened to visit them only weeks apart. The fact is you could view these two sites individually and study them by themselves all you like, however you would be missing something very important!
The people’s who created these sites shared the same time period and clearly the same beliefs and culture. They lived in Europe both in Ireland and Scotland located in the Geographical British Isles; however some 5500 years ago they knew nothing of recent nations and nationalism , of national borders or even the concept of a European nation.
Both monuments are passage tombs, placed for their dead to be remembered, they both also contain elements for marking the passing of the year and its seasons, by measuring the movement of the sun and the moon.
The structures in these places along with the cultural function they served is identical, to me this shows that these people traveled the seas and not only shared goods and beliefs they in fact where the same peoples. They did not just get on with each other through trade they were each other as brother and sister, mother and father, family and friends.
When they knew nothing of modern boundaries and divisions, what else could they be?
These same people who traveled from one place to another in order to expand their options and abilities did not in any shape or form see themselves as English or Scottish or Irish they were family to each other and nothing more or less!
Easter in Ireland is clearly these days viewed as a religious time in the sense of modern Christianity, however Easter or Ēostre, as a festival has been celebrated for many thousands of years before our current state accepted beliefs….
During last weekend we visited the hill of Tara one of Europe’s and Ireland’s oldest pagan monuments, It was a great time of the year to visit as the air was full of springtime with a feeling that summer was only just around the corner,warm days and long evenings. This is the exact feeling that surrounds the beliefs of the people who made this place so Sacred to their Pagan beliefs in the elements of nature and the seasons. I am never sure if these belief’s can fully be called a religion in modern terms, feeling that they were more a philosophy towards the world that they lived in and cared for very much!
here is a little about the long history of the hill of Tara:
Teamhair is the ancient name given the Hill of Tara. One of the most religious and revered sites in all of Ireland, it was from this hill that the Ard Rí, the High Kings of Ireland, ruled the land. The place was sometimes called Druim Caín (the beautiful ridge) or Druim na Descan (the ridge of the outlook). When walking the path that leads to the top of the hill today, one can easily appreciate why. The long gradual slope eventually flattens at the top for an amazing view of the broad plains in the Boyne and Blackwater valleys below. All that remains of the complex is a series of grass-covered mounds and earthworks that say little about the 5,000 years of habitation this hill has seen.
Most historians, including Biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary says: “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.” However, even among those who maintain that Easter has pagan roots, there is some disagreement over which pagan tradition the festival emerged from. Here we will explore some of those perspectives.
Resurrection as a symbol of rebirth
One theory that has been put forward is that the Easter story of crucifixion and resurrection is symbolic of rebirth and renewal and retells the cycle of the seasons, the death and return of the sun.
Hill of Tara Gallery
Is a design engraved on one of the stones inside the middle chamber of Newgrange is probably the most famous Irish Megalithic symbol.
It is often referred to as a Celtic design, but it was carved at least 2500 years before the Celts reached Ireland. At 12 inches in diameter the tri-spiral design is relatively small in size, less than one-third the size of the tri-spiral design on the entrance stone.
Believed by many people to be an ancient symbol of pre-Celtic and Celtic beliefs, the triple spiral appears in various forms in pre-Celtic and Celtic art, with the earliest examples having been carved on pre-Celtic stone monuments, and later examples found in the Celtic Christian illuminated manuscripts of Insular art. The triple spiral was possibly the precursor to the later triskele design found in the manuscripts.
The megalithic tomb of Newgrange in Ireland features several examples of the triple spiral as petroglyphs. These particular examples do not feature three-fold symmetry of later renderings but feature two intertwined spirals with the third originating from the indentation between the other two. This particular feature is rendered with high fidelity in each instance at Newgrange and would suggest a non-tripartite interpretation. One possible interpretation could be the union of male and female (the two entwined spirals) to engender an offspring though how this relates to its setting in a tomb begs explanation.
Last night in order to highlight the uniqueness of the Newgrange spirals, I produced the following versions by tracing over a photograph I took of the original, thus producing different drawings using both the positive an negative spaces of the relief.
You can read into these your own interpretation of the original meaning ….
Ardgroom Stone Circle
Ardgroom (Irish: Dhá Dhroim, meaning “two drumlins”) is a village on the Beara peninsula in County Cork, Ireland.
Its name refers to two gravelly hills deposited by a glacier, Dromárd and Drombeg. It lies to the north north west of Glenbeg Lough, overlooking the Kenmare River estuary. It sits between the coast and the Slieve Miskish Mountains.
The area is also home to a number of megalithic monuments. Signposted is the Ardgroom stone circle to be found to the east of the village at a distance of about 1 mile, off the old Kenmare road. It has the name “Canfea” but is normally called the “Ardgroom” stone circle. About 1 mile north east lie the remains of another stone circle. The Canfea circle consists of 11 stones, 9 of which are still upright with one alignment stone outside the circle. Unusually for a stone circle, its stones tend to taper toward points.
You can park a car about 1/2km away in a small wooded area with the walk to the circle only being some five minutes. The location is wonderful with a view of the mountains behind and the west Cork, coast-line on to the front of the circle.
Just to spend sometime here is amazing as the circle is in very good condition with most of the stones still standing. This must have been some place three thousand years ago, remote, cut off from the rest of the world. These circles were most likely use to help small farming communities tell the time of the year, the passing of the seasons for which they used the moon as well as the sun.
Also in the vicinity are the remains of at least 2 ring forts, as well as a number of standing stones and stone rows.
The Irish great elk is an extinct species of deer it was one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia, from Ireland to northern Asia and Africa.
The skull and antlers in the main image above are located in the old 11th century dining hall at Cahir Castle county Tipperary Ireland. With antlers spanning 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) this Skull hangs high on one of the gable ends of the hall and seams to fill the room with its presence.
It is some 7000 to 8000 years since these amazing elk walked around the Irish landscape, it is not fully known exactly why or when the became extinct but the most recent specimen of M. giganteus in northern Siberia, dated to approximately 7,700 years ago.
The Irish Elk stood about 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) tall at the shoulders carrying the largest antlers of any known cervid (a maximum of 3.65 m (12.0 ft) from tip to tip and weighing up to 40 kg (88 lb)).
In body size the Irish Elk matched the extant moose subspecies of Alaska (Alces alces gigas) as the largest known deer. The Irish Elk is estimated to have attained a total mass of 540–600 kg (1,190–1,323 lb), with large specimens having weighed 700 kg (1,543 lb) or more, roughly similar to the Alaskan Moose. A significant collection of M. giganteus skeletons can be found at the Natural History Museum in Dublin.
It is understood that the first humans to live in Ireland were the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, settling in Ireland after 8000 BC so it is possible that the first people to live here lived along side these animals and even hunted them for food and for their very skin and bones.
Finnish paganism and the Elk
The elk is a common image in many Finnish pagan art works …
Finnish paganism was the indigenous pagan religion in Finland, Estonia and Karelia prior to Christianisation. It was a polytheistic religion, worshipping a number of different deities. The principal god was the god of thunder and the sky, Ukko; other important gods included Jumi, Ahti, and Tapio.
Shows many similarities with the religious practices of neighbouring cultures, such as Germanic, Norse and Baltic paganism. However, it has some distinct differences due to the Uralic and Finnic culture of the region.
Finnish paganism provided the inspiration for a contemporary pagan movement Suomenusko (Finnish: Finnish faith), which is an attempt to reconstruct the old religion of the Finns.
You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Us
By : Lady Ravenwolf
Do as you will and harm none, ever mind the rule of three
Is one of the most important rules of the wiccan reed
Lets take a look back in history
Ways of the old lost within time
All but forgotten, shrouded in mystery
They were a peaceful kind
Yet thousands met such an untimely demise
The ultimate betrayal of mankind
She’s a witch, they’d point and scream
Those were the burning times
You mortals forever ignorant
She is one of many
With blood line ever strong
Her daughters are alive and well
Apparently you missed a few
The witch seen before you
Is a new kind of breed
Dressed completely in black
Morning the death of sisters past
I will forget my own path
Dancing between the worlds
Choosing to walk the in the gray
My magic is powerful
Though I seek not to harm
I will protect what is me and mine
This will be a finial warning
It is most unwise to cross me
With the flick of my hand
A curse will be placed
With a piercing cackle heard
Last weekend I visited the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, to take a good look at some of the pagan/ per-christian objects that they have on permanent display.
One of the items that really captured my attention was the Corleck Hill – Carved stone head, a sculpture in the form of a triple deity. I think this stone is fascinating and provides a mythological link between per-christian Ireland and the wider world, well before the 1st century AD.
I have spent sometime this week doing a little study on the stone head and reading as much as I can find about its form, so I just wanted to share some on the images I took from the visit and some of the details I have found so far.
The Corleck Hill stone head
Object Number: IA:1998.72
Stone HeadCarved stone head. Early Iron Age, 1st – 2nd century AD. Known since it came to scientific attention in 1937 as the Corleck head, this three-faced stone idol was found in the townland of Drumeague, Co. Cavan around the year 1855. It appears that it was one of a number of carvings found, including a bearded bust now known as the Corraghy head that was later built into a barn in the nearby townland of that name. Thomas Barron, the local historian who brought the three-faced head to the attention of the National Museum spent a lifetime researching the local traditions concerning the find and he concluded that the figures were associated with a shrine located at Drumeague Hill. Nearby is Corleck Hill where it appears that between 1832 and 1900 a Passage Tomb surrounded by a stone circle and a circular embankment 70 yards in diameter were dismantled. The site of these monuments was the center of an important Lughnasa festival that celebrated the harvest, an ancient Celtic tradition that survives into modern times. Other Celtic stone heads have been found in the vicinity such as those from Corravilla and Cavan Town and the find place of the three-faced idol is but twelve miles distant from Loughcrew, Co. Meath. A little further north there is another group of Iron Age stone carvings that appear to be centred on the vicinity of Emhain Macha, the main political and ritual site of ancient Ulster. The likelihood is that the Corleck Head was associated with a shrine reflecting Romano-British traditions located close to where the carving was discovered. The three-faced carving is the finest of its type and there is a small hole in the base to assist its being stood securely, perhaps on a pedestal. One of the faces is heavy browed and all of them have bossed eyes, a broad nose and slit mouth. One of the mouths has a small circular hole at the centre and this feature is also found on two of the Co. Armagh carvings and on another from Woodlands, Co. Donegal. There are several examples of this feature from Yorkshire the best known occurring on two three-faced idols from Greetland, near Halifax. The feature also occurs on a stone head from Anglesey, Wales. H. 33cm; Max. W. 22.5cm.
What is the triple deity
A triple deity (sometimes referred to as threefold, tripled, triplicate, tripartite, triune or triadic, or as a trinity) is a deity associated with the number three. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. Carl Jung considered the arrangement of deities into triplets an archetype in the history of religion.
In mythological and its art,three separate beings may represent either a triad who always appear as a group (Greek Moirai, Charites, Erinnyes; Norse Norns; or the Irish Morrígna) or a single deity known from literary sources as having three aspects (Greek Hecate, Diana Nemorensis). In the case of the Irish Brigid it can be ambiguous whether she is a single goddess or three sisters, all named Brigid. The Morrígan also appears sometimes as one being, and at other times as three sisters, as do the three Irish goddesses of sovereignty, Ériu, Fódla and Banba.
The Matres or Matronae are usually represented as a group of three but sometimes with as many as 27 (3 × 3 × 3) inscriptions. They were associated with motherhood and fertility. Inscriptions to these deities have been found in Gaul, Spain, Italy, the Rhineland and Britain, as their worship was carried by Roman soldiery dating from the mid 1st century to the 3rd century AD. Miranda Green observes that “triplism” reflects a way of “expressing the divine rather than presentation of specific god-types. Triads or triple beings are ubiquitous in the Welsh and Irish mythic imagery” (she gives examples including the Irish battle-furies, Macha, and Brigit). “The religious iconographic repertoire of Gaul and Britain during the Roman period includes a wide range of triple forms: the most common triadic depiction is that of the triple mother goddess” (she lists numerous examples).
More ( A fascinating read !!!)
Standing at the top of a hill in the knockmealdown mountains, county Waterford is this amazing standing stone, it rises about 2 meters from the ground. It must have been here for some four thousand years.
I took this images one morning just after sunrise while walking through these mountains that look down over the Waterford coastline.
I placed the rising Sun behind the stone as I wanted to capture the idea of the function of these stones, the tracking of the sun as it moved position on the horizon during the year.
Bonane stone circle and altar of the Moon
During the summer I was lucky enough to get to visit the Bonane stone circle and Alter located near Kenmare , county Kerry. This stone circle was cleared of trees and opened to the full view of the public in current times and it is a great example of a pagan stone circle.
For many centuries it has puzzled historians as to what function these circle served , some think they marks a place of worship others that they acted as a way of measuring the passage of the the year, using the shadows that they cast on the ground. The location and length of these shadows changing as the year passes.
Here at Bonane however it was discovered that the moon was being tracked over an 18.6 year period, it could be that the moon was being worshiped during its movement through the heavens.
They did this by placing an altar about a mile away on a hill side ridge and placed in-line with the center of the stone circle. The most amazing thing is than only every 18.6 years does the moon appear to rise behind the altar at its most southerly point on the horizon and only if you are standing in the center of the stone circle.
The last time this event took place was in 2006 and the next time will be during the Month of June in 2024.
The people who live here in Kerry some 5000 years ago must have been very skilled at astronomy as predicting the movement of the moon has been very difficult until in modern times with the invention of small machines called Orrery and then the use of computers have modern man been able to do so.
See : The Moon Cycles
The task they achieved here is truly amazing and takes a little time to digest, just how they moved three very large stones and placed them on a hill side ridge and then alined a stone circle a good mile away on another hill side and did so with this 18.6 years moon cycle in mind, even today some 5000 years later their achievement is still working.
The difference in thinking between a stone circle being used for the movement of the sun or the moon, or both – is very interesting. As opposed to being used to the help in planting of crops etc, this would appear to imply a function of worship but of what or of who, was it simply the moon or a moon God?
Well the main Pagan deity for this part of the world is thought to be : Elatha
Elatha is quoted as being the “The beautiful Miltonic prince of darkness with golden hair”. He was the son of Dalbaech and a king of the Fomor, he was father of Bres by Eri, a woman of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He came to her over the sea in a vessel of silver, himself having the appearance of a young man with yellow hair, wearing clothes of gold and five gold torcs. He was one of the Fomor who took part in the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh.
During the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Elatha, son of Dalbaech, watched over Dagda’s magic harp, Uaithne, sometimes called Dur-da-Bla, “the Oak of Two Blossoms,” and sometimes Coir-cethar-chuin, “the Four-Angled Music.” He is said to have a sense of humor and a sense of nobility.
Though considered to be the Fomorian father of Eochu Bres, Elatha (Elada) was also the father of the Dagda, Ogma, a son named Delbaeth, and Elloth (the father of Manannan mac Lir) according to the Lebor Gabála Érenn. The mother of these Tuatha De Danann chiefs may have been Ethne, the mother of Lug, based on Ogma’ often cited matronymic “mac Ethliu.” Since Ethne was Fomorian, this means they are all Fomorians. This is rather confusing, but may betray the battle between the two groups as actually being about the new generation of gods displacing the older generation.
Bonane Stone circle and Altar to the Moon – Gallery
The Standing Stones
By : John Bliven Morin
Who will go where the standing stones stand,
when the fog rolls in and covers the land,
when the moon is hidden in a cloudy sky,
and the night is as dark as a raven’s eye,
and the wind is as cold as a winter’s chill,
What’s that? You say you’ll dare, you will?
We’re here. If you’ve courage in your mortal bones,
then go and walk through the standing stones;
yes, that way, go, though it’s hard to see
the ancient path in this obscurity;
your torch is useless for a light,
with the fog and the darkness of the night;
you go alone, for you claim the nerve;
I’ll stay right here, for I only serve.
Follow this footpath through the mist,
and keep to the path I must insist.
You step down the path and I’m lost to view,
as the fog and the mist are surrounding you;
several sounds – grinding – from all about,
startle you so that you almost shout,
but all that comes out is a muted croak,
as you wrap yourself in your winter cloak.
You feel things moving through the very ground,
huge things, horrid things sliding around,
which make your skin crawl with growing fear,
and you sense that something is drawing near;
something immense, for the earth so shakes
that a chill runs up your spine and makes
the hair on your head stand up in fright,
as the fog rolls past and hides from sight
that which you fear but cannot see;
perhaps in your nightmares previously.
Wasn’t that standing stone over there?
But now it’s so close, and that other pair
are much nearer too than they were before!
You remember tales of ancient lore,
as you fall back on some lower stones,
and the Old Ones come to crush your bones;
you scream in fear, you scream in pain,
but all your screaming is quite in vain,
for no one can hear you or see the blood
flow down the altar-stone in a flood;
Then all is quiet; you’ve paid the price,
for you were the Druid’s sacrifice.
and I, their servant. go from here
homeward, until another year.
The original purpose of bullan stones is not really known, but they have an undisputed association with water and worship. A ‘bullaun’ is a deep hemispherical cup hollowed out of a rock. Bullaun Stone refers to the rock itself, which can have many bullauns in it, although many are single.
Water in Pagan life
Water (Uisce in irish / place names after : Adare, the ford that feeds the oak tree.) is a feminine energy and highly connected with the aspects of the Goddess. Used for healing, cleansing, and purification, Water is related to the West, and associated with passion and emotion. In many spiritual paths, consecrated Water can be found – consecrated water is just regular water with salt added to it, and usually a blessing or invocation is said above it. In Wiccan covens, such water is used to consecrate the circle and all the tools within it. As you may expect, water is associated with the color blue.
Ten thousand years ago, before the coming of Christianity in Ireland, the rivers served a very important role in the lives of the people living along its banks. It was their source of food, and a place where their cattle and crops thrived on the nourished plains. It also acted as a barrier between opposing armies and clans. People saw the rivers as powerful objects and worshipped river gods. Often people placed weapons and ornaments of precious metal in the river as offerings to these gods.
Irish Goddess :Brighid
One of the triple Goddesses of the Celtic pantheon. She is the daughter of The Dagda, the All Father of the Tuatha de Danann, one of the most ancient people of Northern Europe. Some say there are actually three Brighids; one is in charge of poetry and inspiration; one is in charge of midwifery and healing, and the last is in charge of crafts and smiths.
She probably began as a sun Goddess. According to legend, she was born at sunrise and a tower of flame beamed from her head.
As Goddess of fire and water, she is immortalized by many wells and springs. Most important of her monuments, though, was a shrine at Kildare where there was a perpetual flame burning for Brighid. It was tended by nineteen virgins called the Daughters of the Flame, wearing deep crimson habits and bearing swords. They would not talk to men, nor could men come near the shrine. Her feast is St.Brighids Days in Ireland and is the Pagan Festival of Imbolc
When Christianity began its onset, so loved was Brighid that she was made a saint. However, the upkeep on her flame was considered pagan by the church and it was extinguished out of more than a thousand years of burning. St. Brigit remains one of the most popular Irish saints today, along with Saint Patrick.
Identical to Juno, Queen of Heaven. Symbolizes human potential. Also known as Brigit, Brigid, Brigindo, Bride.
Dark the bitter winter,
cutting its sharpness,
but Bride’s mantle,
brings spring to Ireland.
Irish Goddess :Fland
Daughter of woodland Goddess Flidais. A lake Goddess who is viewed in modern (Post Christian) folklore as an evil water faery who lures swimmers to their death.
She rules over: Water magick, rivers and lakes
Sunday with Kilkenny’s ancient stones and tombs
Earlier in the year I posted this article about the kilmogue portal Tomb , Located Near Harristown , County Kilkenny.
Sitting at the end of a short path near Harristown, county kilkenny, it is a 6000 year old tomb, know nationally at the Kilmogue Portal Tomb but locally as, “Leac an Scail” – stone of the warrior/hero in English.
This tomb however has become just the first of many ancient remains I feel I have found in this small area of County Kilkenny, since I posted the above post in April (2014).
The above is a map of a wooded area located above the Kilmogue Portal Tomb, Harristown, Kilkenny.
When back in April when I re-visited the portal tomb, I took a good look at its surroundings, its a dairy farming area with some very defined field patterns, I had a very strong feeling that this tomb could not be the only local ancient remains, there just had to be more.
It took some weeks of walking the local roads and wood-lands to find what I was looking for and the above map shows clearly the amount of sites I feel I have now found (Ring forts, standing stones and Tombs), while walking through the above woods there are many different type of megalithic remains.
I visited the another of what I felt was a possible megalithic site last Sunday and this Sunday morning, a collection of Multiple tombs and wanted to share some of the pictures and feeling below.
To get to this location I had to navigate through the trees and get over a wall into the field but once in I was amazed at what I found. There are a total of nine tombs that could as important as the Kilmogue Portal Tomb, they are possible megalithic Court tombs or Portal tombs. I feel that to find so many Tombs in one field is very special and reflects on just how important an area this must have been to the people who lived here over a vast period of time.
I need to keep working on this location and study a lot more as to my possible findings but feel its very exciting to find such a large collection of Tombs in one place.
I did at first wonder if these tombs where just collections of rocks that a farmer in the past had cleared from his fields but on getting closer and spending sometime walking around them, as you can see in the pictures these rocks are very large and in the correct formation and organisation to be Tombs.
They have large rocks forming a boarder with a raised area in the centre, they have a single gap forming an entrance and what looks like smaller grave area inside the tombs themselves. These features fully match the definition of what are defined as court tombs.
You are welcome to have a good looks at the pictures below and form you own impression but for the moment I am very pleased to have found such an impressive ancient location.
The Tombs of Harristown, Kilkenny ; Gallery
Local Standing Stones : Gallery
A local walk through History, Megolithic – Ring forts, Tombs and standing stones.
Last Month I posted the following two articles talking about the history of some historic remains and geology around the area where I live, on the County Kilkenny and Tipperary Boarders.
The image below shows the area around the mountain of Slievenamon, County Tipperary ( left ) and the foot hills that flow to the right and form the shape of an oval from the north and south of the mountain.
The Boarder between county kilkenny and Tipperary flows about half way through this image from north to south.
Over the last few weeks and during the summer of 2014, I want to study and post about the Stone age – Iron age, pre Christian remains that can be found in almost every one of the woods that can be seen in the above image ( Mainly visible as dark green) along with the remains on the mountain of slievenamon itself.
I have lived here in county Kilkenny for about 11 years , moving from the UK in 2003, from the very first walks I took locally it was clear that this area is full a history in the form of old buildings, farms, churches and grave yards.
The remains that interested me the most have been those of pre-Christian times, Ireland became a Christian country between 300 to 400 Ad. These local pre-Christian remains then date from betweem 300Ad to 6000 or 8000 years ago.
The remains that can be found locally take the form of (Ring forts, Graves and tombs, Standing stones and stone circles) all can be found within the area covered in the pictures above.
During last weekend and this week, I have been visiting the above woodland to the south east of the larger area I am studying and have marked on the image below the types of remains I have found :
The remains that I have walk past on woodland paths and the ones that I have looked for by going deeper into the woods are by themselves amazing but by themselves do not tell you a story of who these people were and how they lived.
Over the next few weeks I want to uses four areas in total including the mountain of Slievenamon, to draw a picture of how I feel the people who built these structures lived.
How they worked this land, how they built their homes and how they buried and remembered their ancestors..
The Images below are all pictures of the structures and remains I have found in the woodland area shown and labelled in the images above, I have split them into groups as follows:
Ring forts, these were used for – homes and cattle pens.
Standing stones, used to record time and mark areas.
Graves and tombs, Hill top Burial grounds .
One last thing worth pointing out is that below in the Grave Gallery are two large tomb cap stones, shown in the first two images.
When I first found the stone in the first image, I wondered if it could be anything more than just a large stone left from ice sheets, during the ice age some 10,000 years ago. However I then found the stone in the second image a couple of days later, both these stones are almost the exact same dimensions. It is very unlikely then that these stones can be the result of the ice age and that they are cap stones to large tombs lying underneath.
This web sites show some examples of excavated tombs from this period : Mesolithic tombs
I also have a great example of a tomb like this here : The passage tomb of olioll olum king of munster
Image gallery of the ring fort
Gallery of Standing stones within the woods
Gallery of Graves and Cap stones within the woods
Pagan ring forts and passage tombs , From Kerry to kilkenny
During July last year 2013, I visited two ring forts near Cahersiveen, County Kerry and posted on them as below :
Cahergall ring fort is a massive stone construction, built between 400BC and 500AD, It can be found close to Cahersiveen, County Kerry. Leacanabuaile feels very much more like a dwelling place for people to both live and keep themselves safe from the surrounding Environment. This included raiders and wild animals stealing cattle.
Sitting on a hill side near Cahersiveen in County Kerry is Leacanabuaile Stone Fort, it is considered one of the best examples of an Irish ring fort.
The name translates to ‘Hillside of the Summer Pasturage’.
The visit to both these locations was one of the most interesting history trips I have ever done and left me with a great sense of the History of Europe and of the people who lived here before Christian times.
On returning to county Kilkenny I fell like I was living in a place with a much more limited sense of history, Tipperary and Kilkenny feel much less remote than the coast line and mountains of county Kerry and their history seems to be much more modern.
Well it has taken me almost a year since the visit to Cahergall and Leacanabuaile to realise that this impression of my local area is far from true. Apart from the location of Knockroe (Post here), I have started to visit and find more and more local remains of Ireland’s past and it clearly goes way beyond the days of St Patrick and the early church.
The images below are satellite images of many passage tombs and ring forts, within 10km of our home :
Finding these locations was a real eye opener and showed to me that these forts and passage tombs must have been located through out the country.
The forts in Kerry have been restored over the last 5 years and may well have been in the same poor condition as the local ones here.
It is more than likely that the stone from these locations has been used in more modern times to build local Churches, Farms and stone walls on farm land, Yesterday I posted on the high cross at Kilkamerry and talked about this re-use of Pagan sites to build Christian locations.
It is very likely then that current church yards and grave yards have also been constructed on more of these sites, many more circular features exist on the local landscape and are possibly also ring forts but for these ones time has made things a little less clear.
What does becomes clear from looking deeper is that the pagan history of Ireland was extensive and that the pre-Christian population of this Island was as big as any other location on the European continent.
The images here are of the tomb or ring fort on Ballinlinagh hill, county Kilkenny and of the passage tomb of Knockroe :
Portal tombs, Dolmen’s, portal graves or quoit are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone “skeleton” of the burial mound intact.
It remains unclear when, why, and by whom the earliest tomb’s were made. The oldest known tomb’s are in Western Europe, where they were set in place around 7000 years ago.
County Kilkenny has two such Tombs , the Newmarket tomb and the Kilmogue Portal Tomb at Harristown, both are dated to some 6000 years of age.
I did a little more reading on these tombs and it is very clear that they are very widely spread through out the world as the link below details :
The link shows their world wide locations as :
3.1.3 Eurasia (North Western Caucasus) Circassia
3.1.4 Middle East
3.2.1 Horn of Africa
3.2.2 North Africa
You can see the full details by the link above!
I have been visiting these sites in Ireland for sometime as in Ireland we have many passage tombs through out the country.
Understanding however just how international these locations are is very fascinating.
It needs to be remembered that some 6000 years ago very few of the nations we know, if any existed and people travelled without boarders.
The first time anyone gave Ireland a name as such, it was called “Hibernia”.
Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The name Hibernia was taken from Greek geographical accounts. During exploration of northwest Europe (c. 320 BC), Pytheas of Massilia called the island Iérnē (written Ἰέρνη). In his book Geographia (c. 150 AD), Claudius Ptolemaeus (“Ptolemy”) called the island Iouerníā (written Ἰουερνία, where “ου”-ou stands for w). The Roman historian Tacitus, in his book Agricola (c. 98 AD), uses the name Hibernia. The Romans also sometimes used Scotia, “land of the Scoti”, as a geographical term for Ireland in general, as well as just the part inhabited by those people.
Something that becomes very clear is that the peoples who lived in many different world wide locations often shared the same culture, they lived very closely to and with their environment, they were clearly pagan in their beliefs and as such very close to their surroundings.
Life would have been completely different from the life we know, they lived and moved to the cycles of the seasons, they eat and lived of the wildlife and nature that surrounded them, in some season they would have little food if any.
They clearly had Gods and figure heads, yet we have a tendency to place our own modern religious understanding on-to what this meant to them directly.
It is likely that their Gods were Mythical in nature and derived from memories of real people who they connected with different elements and forces of life that affected the way they lived and survived.
This wikipedia page lists some of the celtic Gods and Goddesses and shows the forces of life and nature that they were related to.
Kilkenny Portal tomb Gallery
NewMarket Portal Tomb
Kilmogue Portal Tomb
Kilmogue Portal Tomb
Sitting at the end of a short path near Harristown, county kilkenny, is a six thousand year old tomb, know nationally at the Kilmogue Portal Tomb but locally as, “Leac an Scail” – stone of the warrior/hero in English.
I have visited the site many times and I still find it an amazing location, the site has a sign placed near it that you can see below. It clearly states that the site has never been officially excavated, as is the case for many of these locations in Ireland. From evidence of Tombs constructed in exactly the same way around the European continent it is thought to be some six thousand years old. To put this in context , the great pyramids in Egypt were constructed around 2560 BC, so this tomb is some 1500 years older.
The tomb is constructed with a very large cap stone and side walls and it is hard to imagine just how the cap stone was lifted into place. The stones that can still be witnessed here would however have been surround by a mount of earth that has been long removed or washed away by six thousand years of rain. This earth mount would have been large maybe some 20 meters in diameter. It was likely then that the walls of the tomb were put in place first and supported with wood, then the earth mound constructed and finally the large cap stone rolled up the sides into its place and covered with more earth on top.
It is not known who’s tomb this was but the person buried here must have been considered very important in this Neolithic community, and the tomb would have acted as a place of memory for them and as was the tradition at the time the community would have held ceremonies here.
Each time I have visited I wonder just what these people where like, they were clearly pagan in their beliefs and very close to their surroundings and its nature. Life would have been completely different from the life we know, they lived and moved to the cycles of the seasons, they eat and lived from the wildlife and nature that surrounded them, in some season they would have little food. They most likely had Gods and figure heads yet we have a tendency to place our own modern religious understanding on-to what this meant to them.
It is likely that their Gods were Mythical in nature and derived from memories of real people who Mythically they created with different elements and forces of life and nature that affected the lives they lived.
List wikipedia page lists some of these Gods and Goddesses and shows the forces in life and nature that they related to.
I hope that the images below relate the Tomb and its location, the surrounding Landscape is very rural and one of county Kilkennys biggest dairy farming areas.
Leac an Scail, Image Gallery
Irish Passage Tombs
Located on the side of Duntryleague Hill, County Limerick and the westerly extension of Slievenamuc hill is a passage tomb. The Tomb was constructed for Olioll Olum, one of the early Kings of Munster.
The name Duntryleague is derived from Dún-Trí-Liag, meaning the fort of three pillar stones. Diarmuid and Gráinne are also said to have rested here in their flight from the angry Fionn Mac CumhaillWell.
The route through the forest leading to the burial ground is accessible and leads to this amazing rock structure of the tomb. There is one enormous rock slab resting steadily across a number of famous cairns which measures approximately 25m north -south and 22m east-west. Continuing on from the cairn you come across many natural viewing points which extend over the terrain of west Limerick.
Olioll Olum, was a King of Munster, who died in 234, he is said to have been progenitor of most of the great families of the south of Ireland. He married Sabia, daughter of Con of the Hundred Battles, ruler of the north of Ireland.
He willed that after his death the sovereignty of Munster should vest alternately in the descendants of his son Eoghan Mor (the Eugenians, or Eoganachts, occupying the southern part of Munster), and those of his son Cormac Cas (the Dalcassians, occupying the northern part of the same province).
The images below include some landscapes of the surrounding mountains, this is not a bad place to be laid to rest.
Gallery of a Passage Tomb