S of Hollywood and visible 175 metres E of the road to Baltinglass,
this is probably the best-known of the Middle Period "Leinster
Type" of stone circle, which derive from the British type
of circle at Ballynoe, county Down. Known as The Piper's
Stones because of the single outlier which is, according
to legend, the petrified piper with the petrified ring-dancers.
The circle of fourteen stones - some of which are boulders,
and others which are pillars up to 1.8 metres high - is about
28 metres in diameter.
metres SE of the stone circle (N 935 028) is a squat standing-stone
just one metre high, which, though not impressive in itself,
offers a fine view over county Kildare to the W - as well as
to The Piper's Stones in the valley beneath, towards
which its long axis points.
~ 2 km
W in Crehelp (N 919 033 on sheet 55) is a grooved standing-stone
some 2 metres high, of the Carlow-Wicklow-Kildare group (see
Broughillstown, below), perforated by a curious rectangular
km SE, on top of Slieve Gad or Church Mountain (N 948
013) is a large ruined cairn some 25 metres in diameter, which
once contained a passage-tomb, then an early Christian church,
of which little remains. The chief reward of the steep 350-metre
climb from the road is the panoramic view.
km SSE are somewhat-chaotic, Leinster-type stone circles at
Castleruddery (S 925 937), 8 km NE of Baltinglass village.
~ A little
under 9 km SE (4.5 km ENE of Castleruddery) are three bullaun
stones in Kelshamore.
km E of Baltinglass village (N 938 892 on sheet 62) is another
multiple-stone circle at Boleycarrigeen, fairly well
preserved and enclosed in a circular earthen embankment. Eleven
out of the original seventeen or eighteen stones survive. The
site is surrounded by conifers.
1 km NE of Boleycarrigeen, unmarked on sheet 62 in Keadeen
(S 944 897) is another stone circle, some 5 metres in diameter
and with traces of a bank on the N side, identified by Tom FourWinds
in 2004. On a site commanding fine views, 7 of a probable 13
stones still stand, including two radially-positioned entrance
line through these entrance stones from the centre of the circle
to the SE leads to a standing stone standing 1.5 metres high
100 metres or so away at S 945 896. From this spot the Boleycarrigeen
circle would be visible across the valley - were it not surrounded
T 171 914
km from Rathdrum, this remote and splendidly-located bullaun
stone is on the end of a north-westerly pointing spur with an
amphitheatrical panorama. Earthfast and measuring just one metre
long and 60 cms wide, it has no known monastic association and
is probably pre-Christian. It has two large bullauns in its
upper surface about 25-30 cms in diameter, one of which is shallow
and the other as deep as it is wide.
bullauns can be seen at Baltynanima, Glendalough and
Roundwood. See also Kilbeg under Seefin,
~ 9.6 km S by W and
less of a walk in Mongnacool Lower (T 163 817 on Sheet
62), hidden in bracken, is a small and neat wedge-tomb, standing
on a rectangular platform of stones, which is all that remains
of the cairn. On either side of the gallery are two halves of
a split boulder. Leaning against these, across the east-west
line of the gallery is a displaced roofstone. On the north side
there are hints of double walling.
top of Baltinglass Hill, close to Baltinglass village, approached
from a narrow by-road to the NE of the hill, this large complex
has a massive surrounding wall - which is modern. A large cairn
some 27 metres in diameter, robbed for wall-building, still
retains most of its internal features. The site comprises remains
of 3 small passage-tombs built at different times and partly-overlying
each other, plus two single-chambered tombs. In the circular
chamber of the latest passage-tomb (III) is a large stone basin
decorated with a double-armed cross within a cartouche. Some
of the roofstones of its narrow passage survive. There is a
beehive-shaped chamber which the excavator considered contemporary
with Tomb I (largely overlaid by Tomb II, a central chamber
surrounded by 5 side-chambers, whose gallery is overlaid by
Tomb III), and a ruined kist which is at least as recent as
km S by E of Baltinglass village, in Broughillstown,
to the N of Broughillstown House and 80 metres E of the main
road to Tullow, is a grooved standing-stone 1.5 metres high,
which, like that at Ardristan Carlow, belongs to the
km ESE of Baltinglass village, in front of Humewood Castle
(S 938 857, sheet 62), is a prostrate stone 1.5 metres long,
decorated with cup-and-ring designs, which was dug out of the
ground when an artificial lake was being created.
When I first
saw this stone - in the 1970s - it was by
the far hedge of a field to the S of the by-road from Togher
(Roundwood) to Lough Dan (not marked on the map), dug up from
the field and placed among other boulders along the hedge. Later
removed by the landowner to his house in Roundwood, it is a
fine stone 1.2 metres long and about 38 cms high, with 14 cup-marks
on its upper surface, ranging from 10 to 11.3 cms in diameter
and up to 7.6 cms deep. One is surrounded by a ring, and a pair
has a partial ring. There are also wide, almost parallel, grooves.
Two other similar stones were reported to have been found in
Also in Roundwood is a bullaun mounted on a pedestal
2 km SW of Roundwood in Baltynanima townland, and marked Bullaun
Stone on the map at O 176 018, is a fine rock outcrop in
the centre of a field. "Well worth the hike 600 metres
from the nearest road either across bog land or through thick
woods", it has two good bullauns over 20 cms in diameter.
For more bullaun stones see Roundwood and Glendalough,
and Kilbeg under Seefin, below.
km WSW in Oldbridge (O 153 016) is a fine petroglyphic
boulder nearly 2 metres long long and 1 metre at its widest.
It has 5 cups with single rings, 6 cups on their own, 1 cup
with 2 concentric rings and 1 more with 3 concentric rings.
These are now all weathering and were much bolder when the stone
(quickily dubbed "The Witch's Stone") was unearthed.
It is very possible that it came from a tomb.
~ 3 km
SW in Drummin is another bullaun stone (O 156 001) -
a large boulder over 2 metres long and 1 metre high. It has
three large bullauns, two of which are over 30 cms in diameter.
~ 100 metres E of the bullaun stone is a slab is partially covered
by grass, but with enough exposed to see at least 20 cup-marks.
The largest, at the E end of the panel, has two rings and 'spider-legs'
around it, visible only in oblique light, as photographed by
km SW (and 1.7 km SW of Drummin bullaun stone in the same townland,
T 145 988) are "The Gossan Stones", a male/female
pair only 1 metre high. unusually aligned North-South, with
the female being to the N. They are on a saddle between two
peaks, due W of the cleft of The Devil's Glen.
T 123 969
far end of the riverside car-park close to the gate-house is
a field-gate, with a bullaun stone and a crude cross-base next
200 metres N of the Visitor Centre (the townland is Brockagh)
is the field of the Seven Fonts, containing several bullaun
stones. The first to be seen is an earthfast boulder that stands
1 metre high. The upper surface is flat and has a single, centrally-placed
bullaun about 30 cm in diameter. The Seven Fonts (T 123 970) is a group of four bullaun
stones, three of which have single depressions, while the fourth
has four. The three single bullaun stones are all earthfast
boulders that are low on the ground. The large one is extremely
unusual in that three of its bullauns are set in a rectangular
depresion, while the fourth bullaun is just outside it.
by Ian Thompson
far end of the same field is another rather unusual bullaun
stone whose upper surface has been squared-off. The single bullaun
is set into a raised, level, rectangular area, and is quite
small at about 20 cm in diameter.
forty bullauns have been reported in the Glendalough area.
Christian monuments (especially The Nuns' Church) at
Glendalough are outside the scope of this Gazetteer, but, of
course, are well worth visiting.
km NE are more bullaun stones at Roundwood Graveyard.
~ 7.1 km NE is a bullaun stone at Baltynanima.
~ 8.8 km E is a pair of standing-stones at Parkmore.
8 km SSW of Glendalough, at Fananierin (T 103 890) is
a cupmarked slab a little over one metre long and 50 cm wide.
There is a parking-place nearby on the scenic road from Laragh
into the mountains. A short distance SW of it is a curious standing-stone
some 70 cms high partly hidden by a clump of reeds.
Situated now in a felled
(2004) conifer plantation this once-mossy site is not easy to
find - but worth the effort. The kerb is some 7 metres in diameter
consisting of small, dull, dark grey granite stones, but on
front of the entrance, facing W, are two large blocks of granite
with considerable quartzite content. On the kerb facing S is
an unusually shaped stone of the same material. Several others
are mingled in with the débris and these might also have
indicated significant directions. Part of the undecorated chamber
survives under an enormous tree.
S 930 675
SE of Tullow and 2.5 km S of Aghowle Romanesque church, approached
up a laneway and then across two fields beside a clump of trees,
this monument is unusual in that its main chamber widens towards
the back, together with the outer walling, so that the wedge
shape is reversed. The usual portico or antechamber is demarcated
by a septal slab. This tomb resembles many in the North of the
2.5 km N is Aghowle Romanesque church, 100 metres SE of which,
in the middle of a field (S 933 693) is a boulder with four
bullauns, three of them intact
and each around 30 cms in diameter.
T 212 961
to the road is a pair (male and female) of stones one metre
high and two metres apart, standing on a little ridge - suggesting
that there might originally have been more. A nearby cairn has
W by N of Enniskerry and 1.6 km S of Killegar Church (with interesting
12th century cross-slabs), close to a lane running N from the
road to Glencree, this unmarked tomb is picturesquely sited
under a small tree. It may be a large megalithic kist, with
a capstone 1.6 metres long supported by 2 long slabs. The two
end slabs have been displaced. It has now become a stone-dump.
km SW in Kilmurry (O 227 139) is a fine standing-stone
somewhat pathetically situated next to a rough football-pitch
and beneath power transmission-lines. Visible through a roadside
gate, it is a chunky block of beautiful red stone some 1.6 metres
high, in the middle of a field, best viewed when wet.
km NNW in Onagh (O 197 193) in a hedge to the NE of a
by-road, half-way between Parknasilloge and the wedge-tomb at
Ballyedmonduff, county Dublin, is a sadly-overgrown,
collapsed portal-tomb with an impressive capstone still partially-supported,
which is said to have been in situ only 30 years ago.
The portal stones are 2 metres high. The inside of the chamber
uprights have a thin layer of quartz as in the passage of Seefin
(below). At Winter Solstice the sun rises significantly from
the lowest dip in the hillside-horizon to the SW of the tomb.
S 902 732
some reason I did not include 'The Ring of the Rath'
in this guide, although I visited it some time in the 1970s.
I have no notes on it, so I will, apologetically, direct readers
from the Dawn for an excellent description and
good photographs of the site.
O 184 014
are situated in the old graveyard in the townland of Ballynacorbeg.
One is just inside the west wall of the graveyard, and is reached
by walking along the path from the gate, past the church. The
stone, at the bottom of some steps, has two depressions, one
of which is large and deep, the other small and shallow.
The second is an octagonal, earthfast boulder just outside the
W wall. It has two very large bullauns, the larger being 40
photo by megalithomania
third is located beside a little spring 15 metres NE of the
church, outside the graveyard enclosure. It is a low, flat earthfast
boulder with a single depression about 15 cms in diameter and
10 cm deep.
2.7 km NE at Knocktemple (O 206 029) is another bullaun
stone, sitting on top of a dome-like knoll which is bordered
on the S by a ravine created by a stream that runs down to the
reservoir to the W. On the edge of the ravine is the ruined
church of Knocktemple, and 35 metres to the N of it is the bullaun
stone, with a sinle depression some 35 cms in diameter. Uncharacteristically,
the upper surface slopes down.
More bullauns can be seen at Baltynanima and Glendalough.
See also Kilbeg under Seefin, below.
4.1 km W, to the W of Lough Dan in Carrigeenduff, is
a large stone with petroglyphs on it - quite easy to find when
you know where it is: behind the mailbox for Bracken House at
O 150 031.
O 085 170
summit of Seefin hill, best approached from the Kilbride (South)
side of the hill, through about 200 rising metres of heather,
the kerb-surrounded cairn of this massive tomb is 24 metres
across and 3 metres high.
N side a narrow passage, 7 metres long, leads through an imposing
entrance into the now-roofless chamber. This is shaped like
a 'Cross of Lorraine' with five recesses, two of which are marked
by sills. One of the surviving granite corbels near the entrance
has a faint decoration of five lines like a hand or ship. Two
of the orthostats of the right-hand side of the passage are
faintly decorated with concentric lozenges. Other stones in
the passage had a thin layer of quartz on them. An equal-armed
cross reported to have been on one of the roof-stones was probably
Early Christian. The tomb has probably been open for two millennia,
and is in a very parlous state due to modern damage and official
neglect. For more information click here.
km SW, in a sloping, boulder-strewn field overlooking Poulaphuca
Reservoir (O 022 102) in Kilbeg, is a fine bullaun stone
some two metres long by one metre wide and 20 cms high. Six
large depressions measure from 20-25 cms across and up to 10
under 11 km SE, on the N side of Djouce Mountain (O 173
105) is "The Coffin Stone", a five-metre long capstone
of a collapsed dolmen. This monument is worth visiting only
in very good weather.
N 960 023
On a little raised
platform, three "Piper's Stones" (each a little over
1 metre high) remain of what was probably a five-stone circle.
If so, they are the two portal stones and the axial pointing
SW. The axial stone has a deep notch in the top, which, with
its tapered sides give it a heart-shaped profile. 200 metres
N is a circular feature 10 metres in diametyer which is either
a henge or a hut circle. The raised bank is just under 1 metre
high, and there are two stones set in the northern part of the
bank. A low spot on the eastern side marks a possible entrance.
~ 200 metres S (N 960
021) is another stone circle: The tops of four of the stones
stand about 1 metre above the blanket-bog. The 1.5 metre-long
axial stone is flush with the surface. The central axis of the
circle is, uinusually, E-W, with the axial stone to the east.
Lying nearby are remains of at least two more stone circles
and several stone rows or possibly even avenues.
~ 9.2 km SSW is Castleruddery
stone circle (see above under Athgreany).
~ 6.1 km NNW are the
many more "Piper's Stones" at Broadleas, county
Kildare (see under Punchestown).