is a domain originally part of the Dissident Editions website
and is greatly expanded from Anthony Weir's EARLY IRELAND
- A FIELD GUIDE, published in 1980 and very soon out of print.
The core of this
site is the alphabetical county-by-county gazetteer of Irish megaliths
from that book, enveloped by pages which put the types of monument
into context. A useful and compact introduction to some of the
thousands of fine stone monuments in Ireland, the continuing expansion
of the gazetteer owes much to the indefatigable researches of
Tom FourWinds (www.megalithomania.com)
whose photographs contribute greatly to the website, and of the
which was developed and expanded from it. It has been a source
of inspiration and information for other irish megalithic websites.
The 1980s were a time of almost complete reappraisal of Irish
field monuments from the Court-tombs of the fourth millennium
BCE to the carved Scripture Crosses of the Early Romanesque. During
this period too the beautiful and highly-accurate new 1:50,000
Ordnance Survey maps replaced the old inaccurate half-inch maps,
and roads in the Republic changed their designations from T (Trunk)
and L (Link) to N (National) and R (Regional),
as well as their numbers. Almost all prehistoric monuments are
now marked on the Southern Irish maps.
The Field Guide
represented over 10 years of travelling all over Ireland (often
with inadequate maps), back and forth to get decent pictures with
second-hand cameras and to visit sites whose locations and descriptions
were buried in old archæological journals. So, when the
poetic-philosophical Dissident Editions website was set up, expansion
to use all this material was inevitable.
first archæological/art-historical pages were, however,
not from the Field Guide, but from researches into Irish sweathouses
and the curious and grotesque 'exhibitionist' figures known as
Sheela-na-gigs. Investigations into the origins and history
of the latter were published by Batsford (later Routledge) in
London, under the unfortunate title of IMAGES
OF LUST, which has never been out of print since its
publication in 1985.
into exhibitionist figures after publication produced the material
now presented on the SATAN
IN THE GROIN
website. The results of investigations into the puzzle of
Irish sweathouses are published herein
on this website.
Soon it was realised
that the library of colour-transparencies made during research
for the Field Guide could form the nucleus of a new on-line Field
Guide, updated with new map-references and information - and new
photographs where necessary.
It is unusual
for an amateur enthusiast webmaster to include photographs which
are not his own. But since this site purports to be a comprehensive
field guide, I am very happy to borrow good photos from other
sites. I am now too old to be charging back and forth up and down
and across the island, and I still add the occasional photograph
from another website.
Until recently, most Irish photo-archæological sites concentrated
on the passage-tombs of counties Meath and Sligo, and gave little
idea of the variety of Irish field monuments all over the island,
nor of their sculptural beauty and the beauty of their locations.
At least half
the pleasure of discovering Ireland's megaliths is in leaving
the banalised tourist routes for a quieter, more hidden Ireland
away from the coasts and the famous passage-tombs & monastic
cites. Even around brash Dublin - and in the centre of Belfast
- fine megaliths are to be found. Indeed, a weekend might not
be long enough in which to see the megaliths just in the southern
half of county Dublin.
website also includes an introduction to some of the thousands
of megaliths to be found in France to the east, north and
south of well-trodden Brittany. These French pages are the by-product
of travel for field-research into the origins of the Irish Sheela-na-gigs
on Romanesque churches, pursued in the late nineteen-seventies
and early eighties. They will expand with continuing visits to
La France Profonde, so much less advertised and so much
more rewarding than Ireland.
This website owes
much to early encouragement and advice from Andy Burnham (http://www.megalithic.co.uk)
and from Bob Trubshaw (http://www.hoap.co.uk).
I am deeply indebted
to Tom FourWinds (http://www.megalithomania.com)
for many photos, much enthusiastic support, and good times visiting
new sites and revisiting sites I last saw 25 years ago or more.
Ken Williams (http://www.shadowsandstone.com)
has also been generously supportive.
Anthony Weir is co-author of Images of Lust:
sexual carvings in medieval churches (1986, 1994, 1999).
He has also published articles in Archæology Ireland,
The County Louth Archæological Journal, Irish Midland Studies,
Mercian Mysteries, On the Edge, and The Ley Hunter.
He was a contributor to the second edition of The Shell Guide
Before publishing his Field Guide he published poetry and
translations with Blackstaff Press, Belfast, and also wrote occasionally
for Fortnight political magazine, and the Newsletter of
In 1994 he founded Dissident
which is now an entirely electronic publisher.