Castlestrange: Decorated "Celtic cult-stone"
M 820 597
on the thumbnail for larger pictures
This beautiful egg-shaped
stone, similar in material (granite) and style ("La Tène" curvilinear)
to the phallic one at Turoe in county Galway, lies beside
the avenue in Castlestrange Demesne (private estate), 2.4 km
NW of Athleague. Sixty cms high and 90 cms long it is decorated
all over with a continuous swirling pattern which is engraved
rather than carved in relief like the Turoe
stone. Since I first saw it in 1971 it has sadly deteriorated
due to national neglect.
G 767 023
field immediately N of the Sligo-Mullingar railway, to the N
of the Boyle-Tobercurry road, this tomb (also known as Tinnacarra
or Ballynanultagh Dolmen) comprises a polygonal chamber
and a huge roofstone measuring 4.5 by 3.8 metres, which has
slipped back from unusually high (2.4 metres) portal stones,
between which is a massive doorstone entirely blocking the entrance.
The sides of the chamber are formed by single stones, between
which is a small, low boulder. The present circular outline
of the surrounding mound is due to cultivation.
photo by Martin Byrne
photo, showing modern support, by Tom FourWinds
Souterrain and cave.
M 798 834
km S of Rathcroghan crossroads and approached by a tarred lane
leading off the Rathcroghan-Lissalway road, is the damp and
magical Cave of Cruachú, known also as Oweynagat
or Cave of the Cat: a deep limestone fissure into which the
visitor may descend from a circular ring (perhaps an Iron age
burial place) through a dry-walled souterrain
some 3.6 metres long, roofed by large lintel-slabs, two of which
bear Ogam inscriptions. Only the most intrepid should venture
around Rathcroghan crossroads is rich in earthworks associated
with Cruachain, seat of the Kings (i.e.warlords) of Connacht,
and scene of the ritual drinking-feast and king-making marriage
to the goddess Maeve (Medbh) known in England as Queen Mab.
The name Cruachain also refers to the North Roscommon
limestone plain. There is a Visitor Centre at Tulsk.
~ 800 metres SE is
Knockannagorp (Hillock of Corpses) alias Dathí's Grave,
a small ring-ditch in the middle of which is "Dathi's Stone",
a 1.8 metre high, brownish slab said to mark 'the grave of the
last pagan king of Ireland', an entirely mythical personage.
The significance of the stone remains a mystery.
for an historical tour of the complex on the 'Voices from
the Dawn' website.
~ 5 km NW of Rathcroghan crossroads, in Drummin (M 758
873), is a pair of standing-stones, one of which is reputed
to have an ogam inscription.
M 929 552
4 km W of Lecarrow,
on a rocky knoll to the E of a by-road, is" The Cloghogle
Stone" (cloch togálach = raised stone) -a small
picturesque chamber 1.2 metres high inside, composed of single
slabs, is partly closed at the entrance by a stone 70 cms high.
The cairn has mostly disappeared.
~ 3.5 km E by S, immediately to the W of the main Roscommon-Athlone
road near Lecarrow at Knockanyconor, is "Nellie's
Rock". Although not accepted as a sepulchre in the Megalithic
Survey - nor even listed among the doubtful - this striking
arrangement of stones is of interest, looking like the disordered
remnants of a court-tomb. One stone, apparently a slipped roofstone,
is 3.3.metres long; another is a little smaller. Upright stones
lean at various angles. The local name may refer to a poor woman
who, during the 19th century is said to have reared a child
under the great flat stone. A number of megalithic tombs (and
of course caves and rock-shelters) were used as dwellings in
"the most wretched country in Europe" during the 19th
century. And in France today many upland chamber-tombs are used
as shepherds' overnight shelters.
~ 15 km SSE (6 km WSW
of Athlone) in Mihanboy (M 986 403, sheet 47) is a ruined
portal-tomb, originally supported on portals 2.3 metres high,
whose backstone has collapsed - thus causing the roof-stone
to slide back, taking the door-stone with it.