WRITTEN BY: MEGAN KOPP
Think Celtic stone circle and what comes to mind?
Most likely it’s Stonehenge – the granddaddy of all stone circles. Rings of standing stones are more common in the land of the Celts than you’d think.
There are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 235 stone circles in Ireland. Almost half of these are found in Cork and Kerry in southern Ireland.
These circles are different than Stonehenge because a) they’re smaller – sometime only a handful of stones, b) they are numerous – over 100 in Cork and Kerry alone, c) they have a recumbent stone – located in the west or southwest quadrant of the circle and d) they have two to four entrance or portal stones – on the eastern side.
The recumbent stone and the portal stones form an axis, or line. In many of these circles, this axis aligns with specific solar or lunar phenomena – such as the winter solstice, spring equinox, or moonrise or moonset positions during the lunar cycle. Most researchers agree that they may have had a ritual or religious function.
Drombeg Stone Circle
This easy-to-access circle – also known as The Druid’s Altar – dates back to the Bronze Age. It’s alignment to sunset during winter solstice was first noted in the 1920s by local Archaeo-astronomer, Boyle Somerville.
The circle – near Rosscarbery in County Cork – has been restored with 13 or the original 17 stones. Drombeg offers a sense of what it might have been like when it was built over 4,000 years ago. Outside of the circle, there are the remains of two prehistoric stone huts.
On the Hunt for Circles
Clodagh, Maughanaclea, Reanascreena, Carrigagrenane, Lissyvigeen – the names of these mysterious monuments elicit excitement for travellers on a quest for adventure outside the norm.
It’s a challenge and an adventure all rolled into one. To aid us in our quest to discover a few more circles, we picked up a copy on our drive across the southern edge of the country of “The Stone Circles of Cork & County Kerry: An Illustrated Map/Guide.” Researched by Jack Roberts, it is a highly-recommended resource!