Huge ringed fort is thought to date back 4,500 years to Neolithic times
Archeologists are probing a Neolithic henge in the middle of Aghagallon which they believe dates back more than 4,500 years. It the reason why Aghagallon has its name and now the Standing Stone is to be given its proper place in history... continues...
[The Daff Stone] is the name popularly given to a large stone which lies on a low mound of earth in a field close to the Moneydig cross-roads. It is roughly diamond-shaped, the longer diagonal reaching 7 feet, and the shorter about 4 feet. The average thickness is from 1 foot 9 inches to 2 feet.
[...] Recently, Mr. S. K. Kircker and myself, happened to be driving past the place. Noticing the stone, we stopped to have a closer look at it. To our astonishment we discovered that it was the cover-stone of a sepulchral chamber. Clearing away some dead thorn-bushes which were about, we found that the stone did not quite cover the chamber at one particular spot. We were afterwards told that the bushes were designed to prevent some young lambs, which were in the field, from falling through the opening thus formed.*
Making his way, with much difficulty, into the chamber by this "open door," Mr. Kircker, after taking some measurements, made a further discovery. He reported that one of the upright stones forming the chamber had some curious markings or scribings upon it.
I immediately secured some paper from a neighbouring shop, and he made me a rubbing, which, though not very satisfactory, showed at least that the stone was rudely decorated. [...]
The word "Daff" means in Irish 'a vat or tub'; and certainly the appearance which the chamber presents to anyone looking in justifies the name. Seven large stones form the staves of the 'cask', if I may so call it, and the cover-stone furnishes the lid.
[...] The stone marked X on the plan is the one which carries the scribings. They occur at about one-third of the height from the bottom as exposed, and cover a space 1 foot 7 inches broad by 1 foot high. On an average they are one-tenth of an inch in width. They are made up of five figures; the largest is a spear-shaped one, and runs almost across the entire space occupied. It also occurs below the other four.
The edges of the blade are formed by a series of scorings, at least five or six on the upper edge, and ten or twelve on the under one. The ends are open, and seem to curl outward - one of them certainly does. The space between these ends is filled with a smaller triangular figure, shaped like an arrow-head, with longish wings and no stem. A similar figure, but longer and sharper, occupies the top corner to the right.
The left-hand corner opposite this is taken up with a circular ornament, 5 1/2 inches in diameter. The circle is incomplete, or penannular, three inches or so of an are being wanting [sic]. There is no cup at the centre, but there are some five straight lines running downwards from the centre to the circumference, two of which are very distinct.
Though the rubbing shows only one circle, or rather partial circle, there are what seem to me faint traces of other concentric circles within this. Mr. Kircker is inclined to think that originally it was a spiral - and it may have been so; but the surface of the stone is so rough, and the scribings so faint, that it is impossible to make anything more out of the figure than what appears on the rubbing.
Between this circular figure and the point of the large spear-like one underneath the others is a fourth 'broad arrow.' Its point is in the opposite direction to that of the 'spear' and also of that which is within the open ends. In both these instances the direction of the point is determined by the shape of the space to be filled with the ornamentation.
I may add, before I leave this, that on the large stone directly opposite to the one bearing the decoration - the largest one, indeed, of all the uprights - there are a few lines scored, but there is no approach to a pattern [...]
From George R Buick's article in the 1904 Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
I love the way there's a sense of excitement as they explore the stones. And this* made me smile, I bet they found this out when the farmer came over to see what the hell they were up to, and told them off for removing the branches he'd deliberately put there.
It seems to me that there must be some quite complicated designs on the stones. And this would be very cool to see. But when I tried to find out about them on the internet, I drew a blank. The NISMR page is pretty sparse. The additional details link suggests the Official Visit in 1997 didn't notice any carvings at all. But George and his mate Mr Kircker didn't imagine them, surely? They took some rubbings of them - twice, because the first set went astray. You couldn't imagine them twice.
I know what I'd do if I lived nearby, I'd be over there with a torch and a camera.
I had seen the sign for Drumskinny Stone Circle on the journey towards Donegal and made a mental note to try and visit on the way back as just over the border with Northern Ireland in County Fermanagh off the main road between Donegal Town and the village of Kesh. The monument consists of a stone circle, cairn and stone alignment and comes as something as a surprise as it seems to be in miniature. The peat bog has also been removed around the monument replaced by gravel. There is an information board by the gate into the site which verifies it authenticity - I've recorded it below as some will find the measurements a little odd. Could this be a place of 'the little people' I wonder :)
"Management History: Drumskinny Stone Circle first came under public management in 1934 when it was taken under the charge of the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Lying in shallow upland bog, poor drainage had caused recurring water-logging of the site. This was detrimental to the presentation of the monuments and inhibited inspection by visitors. In 1962 measures to improve the site’s amenities were implemented by the Ancient Monuments Branch of the MOF and involved the removal of peat down to the natural boulder clay and the laying of stone chippings in the area of the monument. As no previous examination of the monument had taken place, these works allowed for an archaeological excavation under the supervision of D.M. Waterman.
The Monuments: The archaeological monument at this site consists of a stone circle, a cairn, and alignment. The stone circle, although not geometrically accurate, maintains a fairly consistent diameter of 13.1m and includes three apparent gaps. Waterman’s excavation discovered 31 standing stones, an additional fallen stone lying adjacent to its socket and the former presence of seven more uprights (indicated by stone socket holes), suggesting an original minimum of 39 stones around the circumference. The stones vary in size and shape with the shortest only 38cm above ground level, while the tallest rises to almost 1.8m.
The circular cairn, lying one metre north-west of the stone circle, is carefully constructed of boulders and slabby stones. It has a regular diameter of 4 metres, and stands approximately 30cm in height at the edges, rising to 45 cm in the centre of the cairn. During excavation, no trace of burial or any other form of deposit was revealed.
The alignment directed towards the centre of the cairn consists of small stone uprights and extends to a distance of 15m towards the south. Of the original estimated 24 stones only 16 remained at the time of Waterman’s excavation. The highest stone still standing rises to 48 cm.
The Finds: during excavation, a small number of artefacts were discovered. A small piece of probable Neolithic potter was found in clay at the east of the stone circle. A hollow scraper was found under stone spread at the north-west side of the cairn. Six further flints were found in the area of the cairn, two them burnt."
Note: After our visit, on the drive back to the main road we noticed three large standing stones in a field opposite a small white church, not far from Drumskinny. Didn't have time to investigate as had to get down to Dublin. I'd very much like to know any information about these stones.