Visited the neighbouring DSPCA today, 12/5/15 and couldn't resist this. Seems that they may be realising what they have on their hands here as there was quite a bit of recent heavy shrub felling and the site is quite open. I don't know if the DSPCA own the land that the mega-megalith is on, but they have marked it on the map on one of their hand-outs.
I always struggle to explain this place, and the scale of what may have once been a capstone (or may have been an over-ambitious and abandoned operation). The stone's only rival for weight, as far as I know, is at Browne's Hill in Carlow – much better known and valued.
This time I had my little companion with me and hope that today's shots show some scale.
I've been at Mount Venus twice before and both times have left feeling puzzled. The massive capstone lies against a single large upright and there has always been precious little else to see due to a riot of vegetation. Doubts persist in the literature as to whether the capstone was ever fully raised or if this was a project begun and then abandoned, a bridge too far so to speak.
I stopped by the tomb today to see if I could clear up some of this confusion for myself. I had hoped that the growth was not as bad as usual given the time of year. I was even optimistic that someone might have cleared around the tomb as the last time I was here somebody had cut the elder tree at the tomb's north end. No such luck, but the new year's growth was only just taking hold and I was able to get a much better view of the monument after a half hour's toil. Brambles, hawthorn, nettles and holly; my unprotected hands are showing the signs.
One of the problems I have in describing this tomb is that I don't know the front from the back, where the supposed portal was, was there ever a doorstone etc. I've always thought of the front of the tomb as being the sloping capstone, the east side/end. I'll use that as a guide.
I had never seen the stone at the front of this image http://www.megalithomania.com/show/image/5326 before. I was able to uncover it today. It's almost 4 metres long by a metre wide and looks to have been dressed. What it's purpose was, what part of the structure it belonged to, is beyond me. At the south end of the tomb is a stone with similarities to the one that remains standing. Did this once prop up the south end? I didn't get a good look at it as I had had my fill of bashing brambles back for today.
Right in the centre of the stones is a large hawthorn tree with a parasitic holly tree at its side. A modern pit has been dug around the tree and is filled with plastic and glass bottles. I wondered why this site doesn't have an official fógra beside it. A little time and a chainsaw would expose more of the monument and aid us in knowing a little more about what went on here back in the neolithic. There is more to find out from a survey of the site. I was left feeling slightly less puzzled when I took my leave. I'll be back... with a machete!
Re-visited here at the height of the bracken season. After beating back some of the brambles and bracken, the enormity of the capstone is revealed. Somebody had been here about 2 months ago and kindly cut down the tree at the northern end of the tomb. This allows much better views of the stones.
Access was once again along the west side of the DCPCA grounds for about 60 metres, over the barbed wire and across the small field here, and then in through the slightly overgrown gap. The tomb is still hidden until you go through this gap and turn left.
Turning to the south side of Dublin, in the grounds of "Mount Venus," a domain on the top of the hills, seven or eight miles from the city, is a large stone, twenty feet long (in line about N.W. and S.E.), ten feet broad, and three thick, leaning against an upright stone, eight feet high, and from three to five feet broad and thick [...]
The old man who drove me to the spot intimated that the visit to it was likely to lead to a double increase of my family, and this, coupled with the name of the hill, seems to point towards a tradition of phallic rites in connection with it.
Notes on Some Irish Antiquities
A. L. Lewis
The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 9, (1880), pp. 137-145.