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...
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.
This was a complete surprise. Stopped off in Co. Tyrone to visit some old friends of the friend I was travelling to Donegal with. They just happened to know Mark Bailey the Director of Armagh Observatory who holds the key for Knockmany. He and his wife very kindly accompanied our small group up to the cairn which sits at the very top of a reasonably steep hill - commanding 360 degree views in all directions. Going inside the chambered cairn was a real thrill - my first close encounter with Irish rock art. Mark Bailey has the theory (a good one I should think) that the skies were once far more active in terms of comets and visibility that they appear to be now. And that the spiral shape with a 'tail' replicates a comet tail structure. We decided that the cairn was aligned north/south orientated due south towards Slieve Gullion and the Mournes. The cairn now has a clear glass covering and is not accessible without the key to the grill gate. However, most of the tomb can be seen quite well through the gate.