The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Stone Circle


Such are the megalithic riches of Cork and Kerry that this beautiful recumbent stone circle was, I'm ashamed to say, merely languishing upon my 'reserve list' of sites to be visited should the chance arise. Fortunately, for my self-credibility, it did.

The R569 leads eastwards from Kenmare - which, incidentally, possesses a fine stone circle of its own - to the town of Kilgarvan, south of which a minor road ascends above the Slaheny Valley in the direction of 'Macaura's Grave', the nature of the latter remaining an unknown entity. Without an OS map I'm forced to rely upon Mr Cope's 'Megalithic European' directions. He does not let me down..... not that this is readily apparent as I park up beside a lonely track-cum-road leading to a distant farm, since the 'ring, perched upon a rocky knoll, is not visible until you are a few yards distant.

A 5-bar gate to the left furnishes a clue, however, and sure enough a short track brings the traveller to one of the most intimate, exquisite little stone circles it has ever been his privilege to see.... before a swarm of Grade A 'attack' midges necessitate an immediate sortie back to the car to retrieve insect repellent. So a few minutes later, smelling like a prize lemon - and no doubt looking like one - I settle back down to enjoy the moment... when, horror of horrors, the sound of a car driving up shatters the ethereal stillness. Thankfully a local accent and the comical clamour of alarmed sheep being moved into an adjacent field announce salvation. Gurteen was clearly designed to remain hidden from prying eyes, a haven away from the distractions of every day life. So it was written, so it shall be.

As mentioned, the 'circle is a bona-fide gem, with eleven (I think) orthostats, one fallen, and two external, radial portals - the entrance arrangement apparently very unusual, according to Burl. The recumbent is no 'tiddler' either, plus - like the aforementioned Kenmare ring - there's the additional bonus of a central 'boulder burial'. The surrounding landscape is impressive, with a sweeping vista of Slaheny Valley to the north providing a softer counterpart to the rugged Gullaba Hill and soaring 2000ft ridge to the south.

In fact I'm inclined to review my previous assertion. Far from being hidden away in the 'middle of nowhere', it could well be argued that, at least to those that built it, Gurteen was actually at the centre of the locality, at the very hub of 'everything'. It's just our 21st Century perception that has changed. More's the pity, perhaps.
22nd March 2010ce
Edited 23rd March 2010ce

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