Boleycarrigeen Stone Circle at sunset 03/01/10, in the foreground are the two portal stones which are the tallest stones in the circle and in the centre of the shot is the axial stone, one of the smallest, probably indicating sunset at winter solstice from what I saw this afternoon and as can be seen in the photo. The sun's setting position moves extremely slowly around the solstices though a proper survey and observation closer to the date might be needed to confirm.
As far as I can tell from researching this circle this alignment has not been noted before. Burl does not indicate any alignment event here at all. Up until the last year the circle was in a small clearing in a plantation that blocked views in all directions but near the winter solstice in 2005, Tom Fourwinds and I thought we could see some sunlight glow behind the axial stone.
This year was the first that accurate observations could be made but due to bad weather and treacherous roads it was only today that I managed to return to view the sunset, though I don't recommend anyone visiting any time soon as the roads are still extremely dangerous. The plantation is also growing back quickly with no route left to the circle, the trees are planted very close together so this and possibly next year may be the last time this can be viewed before the circle is swallowed up again by trees.
I think I owe the guy who drive in front of me up to the hills a credit here too because if he wasn't driving in front of me I probably wouldn't have chanced the roads at all as they were like ski slopes (though his jeep had much bigger tyres than mine!).
The tree-line that used to give you your bearings is gone, the trees are down, and there's an unholy mess to be traversed before you get to the circle. What wonder and joy when you get there though. The circle pulls you in, the views opened up all around. Keadeen is a monster brooding in the clouds to the east. Brusselstown hillfort dominates the north-west.
We had precious little time to drink in the rest of the views: we arrived 5 minutes before a bunch of worshippers took over the circle for their rituals. Were we pissed off? Not half mate!
There's just a thin strip of trees surrounding the circle now. The cleared area to the north is well re-planted and the young pines are about a foot high. I looked down on Boleycarrigeen from Brusselstown hillfort today and wondered why they haven't cleared the trees from around the circle. They're of the same vintage as those already cleared. Some of the trees east of the circle in mulchy ground have fallen during the recent storms.
The very dead bracken around the stones took us about 5 minutes to flatten. The bank around the circle is easy to see at this time. The quietness here always brings peace to the soul an we had our lunch just outside the circle. Boleycarrigeen remains, huddled snugly in its small copse, waiting to be revealed by the tree-fellers. Let's hope they're very careful if and when they do decide to clear here.
I think that this was my favourite of the sites we visited on Sunday with Ryaner. Maybe it was the rather hilarious walk, with all 3 of us stumbling and getting caught on bits of dead tree at some point (and me almost falling into the smallest ditch imaginable) but it is more likely the absolutely magical setting of the stones.
Andy's previous visit was still in evidence and the bracken was quite low, revealing the most beautiful stones. Some of them were almost completely covered in moss and lichen but they still looked amazing. Vicky and I had a good wander around the outside to see if there was an outlier but there doesn't seem to be anything else in the woods linked to this site.
Andy pointed out and named the hills surrounding the site (which I have now forgotten!) and you can imagine the views from here before the forest was planted up. Fantastic! On the way back down, he noticed a stone amongst a pile of broken wood which could very easily be one of the missing stones; same size and weathering.
Oddly, there were 3 cider drinking Scandinavians sat in the centre of the circle which was pretty unusual because it isn't the kind of place a causal observer would stumble on and they didn't actually seem that interested in the circle itself, just their Bulmers! Made photographing the circle a bit hard but nothing could ruin the absolute magic of this place.
This is a magical place. From the track, across the desolation of the felled part of the plantation, up to the circle in the baking heat, with massive Keadeen Mountain brooding off to the east, and then the first glimpse of the entrance stones.
When was the last time human feet trod here? One month? Two? There were crowns of dead leaves on two of the stones, left behind by those that are into that kind of thing. Bracken hid all the stones but four. Not for long! Nature was taking back the circle and it was with a tinge of guilt that I uncovered the stones.
Eleven remain. Were there 18? 19? 20? I brought up a fist-sized piece of gleaming quartz from the track and left it in the centre of the circle. Why? No reason.
What is it they say, following in the footsteps of giants, i found this the easy way, thanks to Fourwinds 10 digit GPS coordinates and even when I got close to the site I followed a recent track straight to the circle, which i presume was Cians from the weekend! This must have been almost impossible to find before the forest was cleared and before GPS. It really is a beautiful place and thanks to the lovely weather I just hung out in the circle and relaxed.
It reminds me in some ways of Grange Lios in Limerick (not how it looks but more how it feels) but it is so quiet that you can really just think about nothing.
It would be interesting to reconstruct the views from the circle without all the trees around. I would think the views would be very impressive. Does anyone know what way this circle is aligned?
Although the trees around the circle have not yet been cleared, the circle itself is completly clear and very easy to make out now. The area in the middle has been flattened, seems like a large group of people have been here recently and I also saw a small pile of loose stones beside the circle. These apparently are being used to fill in the gaps and make the circle 'complete' for whatever purpose and shallow sockets can be seen in the gaps of the circle.
The mysterious circle at last. It really is a magical place, I wish I had been able to climb up the hillside among the dense trees to find this clearing. The circle and its low ditch is like a sacred sanctum, if you look at the photos the surrounding tree branches look like hands reaching down towards the stones...
I met up with the legendary Tom FourWinds in Baltinglass and on we drove down a trackway with pot holes you could bury a horse in. Turns out we share quite a few interests; old stones, photography, fishkeeping, getting the hell out of mountain forests before its pitch dark etc etc. It was great to visit a site (especially one like this) with someone who you dont have to keep convincing that the muddy, trackless trek up to some old stones is worth the time and effort, and it was a pleasure. Sometimes it seems more productive to think out loud and have your thoughts bounced back.
But to the circle... Someone had stood some buried stones upright, little runts that at first made the circle look more complete, then made it look totally off-balance. Without careful observation it seemed that the builders were hedging their bets with the axis alignment here, its definitley close to the mid-winter sunset but which stone is the axial? Hard to tell but all might be revealed (literally) if the trees to the west were removed.
This is a place you could spend many hours at, just listening to the sounds overhead and in the trees, and not feel like civilisation was observing you.