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Holy Hills of Ireland

52 53 CirCLes, CairNs megaLithiC sites Mainly these sites were created circa 2,000 3,000 BC, but continued to be ritually important for millennia. Diodorus Siculus wrote about one, in the first century BC there is in this island a magnificent sacred precinct of Apollo and a notable temple that is adorned with many votive offerings and is spherical in shape. AthgreAny, the Field of the Sun Pipers Stones, Wicklow, fourteen boulders in a circle with a possible midsummer sunrise alignment legend says they were people turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday, and that the fairies play the bagpipes at midnight. BAllyBAttin near Tara, until the mid 18th century this astonishing complex with external bank, elaborate stone circles and avenue was largely intact. Now only crop marks remain. BAllyBriest dual court cairn, Derry, on the slopes of Slieve Gallion, built directly on the ashes of a huge fire and earlier ritual deposits many other megalithic cairns nearby. BAltinglAss hill, Wicklow, on it are the remains of a massive passage cairn, 90 ft across and retained by a double ring of stones. A passage leads to a chamber with a beautifully cut stone basin. The earliest passage cairn points north, a stellar alignment, and has incised diamond patterns as at Fourknocks and Seefin. BAllykeel dolMen, Armagh. It has a huge cairn, 90 ft long, with the dolmen made with 7ft high portals and a large cap stone at its south end. BAllyMAcderMot, Armagh, a court cairn, 600 ft up the mountain, has three chambers. BAllynoe stone circle, about 70 stones, some 7ft high, aligned to the midwinter sunset. BeAghMore, Tyrone, the most important of the many megalithic complexes on the Sperrins, it consists of nine stone circles, and many cairns, portals and avenues. One alignment is to the summer solstice and the complex is dated between 1500 and 800 BC BeltAny stone circle, Donegal, associated with Beltaine, the beginning of summer, is 145 ft across, with 64 upright stones. Br nA Binne, Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth. This famous and remarkable site, oriented towards midwinter sunrise, dates back to circa 3,000 BC. Nearby are the equally important sites of Dowth and Knowth. BohonAgh circle, Cork, 13 stone circle aligned to equinox sunsets cArrowkeel, Sligo, 14 megalithic passage cairns high on the Bricklieve Mountains, built circa 3,000 to 2,000 BC and aligned to various solar and lunar settings. Cairn G has a light box like New Grange, for the summer solstice. cArrowMore, Sligo, apparently has the oldest megalithic complex in Ireland, dating back to 5,400 BC. 55 passage cairns have been recorded here, forming a ring round an empty area, with many opening towards a large cairn in the middle which covered seven skeletons and large quantities of charcoal, possibly the site of a ritual fire. droMBeg, Cork, 17 stone circle with tall portal stones, opposite a 7 ft long axial stone with two cup marks. In a pit near the centre were the bones of an Iron Age youth and a broken urn. The alignment is to the winter solstice sunset. fourknocks, chambered cairn, Meath, a short passage leads to a large chamber with three recesses. Twelve stones have powerful angular patterns and zigzags. The orientation is to the north, on a stellar or lunar alignment, as at Seefin and Baltinglass. giAnts ring, Belfast. The largest ritual site in Ireland. A circular earth bank, 12 ft high, encloses an area about 600 ft across, containing the remains of a neolithic dolmen. Outside it was an oval enclosure 300 ft long of double rows of huge posts, with a smaller one inside it containing a planked walkway leading to a platform. glenisheen wedge cairn, Clare consists of two long sidestones supporting a roof slab and in it was found the Glensheen Gold Collar, dated to the Bronze Age. kilclooney dolmen, Donegal, has 6ft high portals supporting a massive 20 ft capstone killycluggin, Cavan, one of the three elaborately carved Iron Age stones, which stood, decorated with beaten gold beside a stone circle until St Patrick destroyed it, so as to break the pagan god Crom Cruachs power. knockMAny chambered cairn, Tyrone, magnificent megalithic sandstone slabs carved with great complexity. It is aligned south towards the midday sun and Loughcrew. legAnAnny dolmen, perhaps the most graceful one in Ireland, a 10 ft granite slab resting on two slender 6ft pillars and a pointed end stone. lios, Limerick, a circular henge made of standing stones backed by a 3 ft earthen bank. There are Lughnasa and Bealtaine sunrise alignments, and two entrance stones point towards the sunsets of Samhain and Omelg. Circa 2,000 BC lissyviggeen, circle Kerry, 7 uprights surrounded by a circular bank and with two large outliers beyond the bank. loughcrew, Sliabh na Caill, Meath, a hill ridge with over 30 chambered cairns on it. Cairn T has a corbelled chamber and 27 decorated stones, while another has a white pillar stone illuminated by the equinox sun and a third has finely worked spirals as at New Grange. PiPers stones, Broadleas Commons, Kildare, a circle of almost continuous broad granite boulders, with some quartz. PoulnABrone dolmen, Clare, stands on a limestone platform, circa 2,500 BC the defleshed remains of about 20 adults and 6 children were found in it. Proleek dolmen, Louth, a huge cap stone poised on three pointed tall stones sess kilgreen passage cairn, Tyrone, with 11ft long chamber, its endstone decorated with a double concentric ring around another smaller concentric ring, facing the summer solstice. The name incorporates that of Grinne, the sun goddess. seefin passage cairn, Wicklow, Blessington Mountain. A passage leads to a chamber with five recesses two stones at the chambers entrance have concentric diamond shapes and five lines on an entrance roof stone point north. It is one of only three aligned to the stars, and all use diamond patterns. slieve gullion passage cairns, the southern one, Cailleach Bharras house, is one of the largest passage cairns in Ulster, over 80 ft in diameter, and dates to about 3,000 BC. Its passage points towards another hill with her name, Sliabh na Caill, Loughcrew. tArA, Meath, its passage cairn, Dumha na nGiall, the Mound of the Hostges aligns to sunrise in early February and November, the beginning of Spring and Winter, its backstones carvings show circles and arcs. Two gold torcs found in it date from about 2,000 BC teMPleBryAn stone circle, Clonakilty Cork, four of nine visible stones still upright, one made of quartz and called the sun stone locally.
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