Forenaghts Great: Standing-stone
N 936 206
300 metres NNW of the
road from Rathcoole to Punchestown (the old Woolpack Road),
and 300 metres NNE of Forenaghts church, close to the demesne
(estate) wall on private land at Longstone Rath, this standing-stone
is over 5 metres high and weighs some 13 tonnes. It is inside
a circular banked enclosure with external ditch. This is not
a rath or 'ringfort' (fortified farmstead) but a ceremonial
henge. A kist-tomb was found adjoining the rock-cut socket of
~ 2.3 km SSW, in Baltracy (N 932 182) halfway between
the Forenaghts Great and Punchestown stones (below),
is another fine monolith some 3.5 metres high,
with a curious excrescence which makes it look like a cross
unfinished by someone on magic mushrooms.
Standing-stone and ritual site
N 828 037
is a granite monolith about 2.5 metres high and is unusual among
standing stones in that it has been Christianised with a small
cross with slightly expanded terminals cut on one face, as well
as sitting on top of an artificial mound. Gravel-quarrying threatened
its existence in the 1980s, and in October 1986 during bulldozing
operations two inhumation burials were exposed at the site,
including a human skull to the W of the stone, surrounded by
flagstones and the scattered remains of other skeletons. Modern
bulldozed spoil had been thrown up on either side of anew access
route and also down the slope so that no archæological
features in situ could be seen, although numerous pieces
of bone and flagstones were visible in the spoil.
~ 3.4 km NNW is the
hill-fort of Dún Aillinne (N 820 078) in the townland
of Knockaulin, an important ritual site and royal seat
of the kings of Leinster. An almost circular rampart of earth
up to 5 metres high, with an internal ditch, encloses an area
of over 8 hectares with a diameter of almost 450 metres. The
internal ditch or fosse is 15 metres wide and up to 2
metres deep. It is larger than Navan Fort in county Armagh,
whose function was similar.
On the top is a low cairn some 20 metres in diameter, also damaged
by gravel quarrying, which may have been a Bronze Age monument
re-used in "Celtic" times.
~ 9.1 km E is a standing-stone
at Crehelp, county Wicklow.
S 773 957
from its original position on the opposite side of the road,
this 'Long Stone', on the crest of a hill, is 1.8 metres high
and has a groove running down one side, linking it to other
grooved stones in Carlow
3.5 km SSE, outside the Moone High Cross Hotel at Bolton
Hill (S 780 897) is a stone with a single bullaun,
30 cms across, currently used as an ashtray. Next to the bullaun
is a hollow reminiscent of a saddle-quern. On the other side
of the road, next to a gate, is another boulder with two similar
bullauns set at one end. Both stones came from Castledermot.
Two more single-bullaun stones stones are in the paved area
behind the wall to the left of the pub as you face the entrance.
N 918 165
4.5 km SSW of the monolith
at Forenaghts Great, to the north of Punchestown racecourse,
in a field to the E of a by-road, clearly visible through gaps
in the hedge, is a fine tapering monolith which fell in 1931.
It was found to be nearly 7 metres long and to weigh 9 tonnes.
There was an empty stone kist beside the stone-lined socket,
into which "The Long Stone"has now been replaced
to stand almost 6 metres high.
~ 800 metres SW, opposite
the entrance to the racecourse in Craddockstown West
(N 911 163) is another menhir, 4.3 metres high.
~ 2.4 km NNE is the
standing-stone at Baltracy (above).
~ 8 km SSE at Broadleas
(N 928 075) are "The Piper's Stones", a stone circle
of contiguous, low boulders some 30 metres in diameter, not
dissimilar to the circle at Kilmakee
in county Antrim.
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