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Holy Hills of Ireland

30 31 spiNNiNg rouNd circles Near the end of the Neolithic period which produced the great megalithic monuments henges appeared, large banked and usually ditched circular enclosures with astronomical alignments, which were also often related to elaborate wooden structures. Limerick has the fine Lios, while the largest, the Giants Ring, is on high ground south of Belfast and Dowth hill has yet another. Some only appear now as crop marks, like Ballybattin near Tara, which was as complex a site as Stonehenge before its 18th century destruction. Stone circles were constructed in large numbers during the Bronze Age, and appear to have been largely built or inspired by incomers. Ballynoe, near Dundrum in Down, for example, closely resembles circles just across the sea in Cumbria, and the south Munster group are similar to those constructed somewhat earlier in northeast Scotland. Most point in the general direction of important sunsets Drombeg, Cork, looks towards midwinters, and Bohonagh circle to equinox sundowns. Folktales abound at Clonakilty a quarzite pillar is called the Sun Stone, the stones at Lissyviggeen, Kerry, and the Pipers Stones, Wicklow, are petrified dancers at Killycluggin, Cavan, they are Crom Dubhs court, at Beaghmore, Tyrone, the Dragons Teeth and a giant hound, the Callan Mr, was killed beside the Ballybriest circles, Derry, some of the many in Ulster constructed on the Sperrin mountains. Above Ballymore, near Dundrum, Co. Down, a large diameter ring over 100ft of closeset irregular stones with double portals facing downhill, very similar to circles on the Cumbrian coast. Below The circles of southwest Ireland have recumbent stones and many cup marks, and use stones rich in quartz, very like circles in northeast Scotland. Left Standing Stones in Co. Kerry. Right Stone Circle at Slieve na Greidle, Co. Down.
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