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

Get the TMA Images feed
Rhiannon's Latest Posts

Latest Posts
Showing 1-50 of 4,014 posts. Most recent first | Next 50

Pinnacle — Folklore

These legends [told of Killeen Cormac ] look like an interpretation from one more ancient concerning the hounds of Cuglos (son of Donndesa, King of Leinster), who was master of the hounds to Ederscoel, the great king of Erin. [...]

His dogs hunted a wild boar from Tara to the Hill of Urske, where they left the marks of their paws on the stones of a druidical circle crowning its summit. The same traces are to be found on some rocks at Manger, near Rathbran.

While pursuing their game up the hill over Beallach Dubhthaire, the ancient name of Baltinglass, Cuglos with his dogs, blinded by the mist and fog, chased their game into a cave on the summit of the mountain, and being there lost, his memory was perpetuated by giving his name to the scene of his untimely fate.
From 'The Inscribed Stones of Killeen Cormac' by J.F.S., in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record v4, no9, 1868.

Killeen Cormac (Passage Grave) — Folklore

It has been suggested that Killeen Cormac was in the pre-Christian period used as a place of pagan sepulchre. Its very peculiar construction and the indications of a sepulchral chamber within the moat, with passages to the terraces such are to be found in similar structures at New Grange on the Boyne, and in other localities, give an air of certainty to the suggestion, which is well sustained by the appearance of a stone on the south side of the mound about three feet high, fixed in the wall of the middle terrace.

It seems to be one of the jambs of a door to the entrance leading from the central cave. The side of this stone is grooved, the opposite jamb was likely hollowed in the same manner to receive a thinner flag to close the exterior entrance.

Killeen Cormac has the reputation of being full of rats, as well as of being the oldest cemetery in the whole country. These animals are up to this time the only explorers of the subterranean galleries under the mound, since they were closed up to preserve the remains of some pagan hero of the earliest dawn of history.

The most recent fact connected with this cemetery is, that about the year 1830 a stone wall was built around its area, some trees were then planted which add a phase of beauty peculiarly their own, while their shadows give a dim religious light in harmony with the venerable relics of antiquity of which they are the guardians.

Within the enclosure, and on the sides of the ruined terraces, are some inscribed pillar stones, with Latin and Ogham inscriptions, and some very curious incised figures, the description of which is reserved for notice at the close of this paper.

At the side of the mound, some paces from the entrance, is one pillar stone, now about three feet above the surface, on the top of which is an indentation resembling the trace of a hound's paw, as if impressed on a soft surface. Excavations made around it did not reveal any features worth describing.

A very curious legend, founded indeed on historical facts, is told concerning this stone, with a view, perhaps, to account for the name Cormac being affixed to the locality. The tradition of the neighbourhood says that the pillar stone marks the grave of a Cormac, king of Munster. It states that he was carried to this cemetery for sepulture by a team of bullocks, which were allowed to follow their own instincts, a mode of settling disputes regarding sepulture not uncommon among the ancient Irish. [This tradition...] avers that he was carried from a long distance through Ballynure from Timolin, in the county of Kildare, and when the team reached that part of Ballymore now known as "the Doon" the exhausted bullocks, in the eagerness of their thirst, pawed the earth, and that a stream of water issued forth. Another version states that the teamster stuck his goad into the ground, whereupon gushed up a bubbling fountain, which is still to be found near the roadside, and is used as a watering-place for the kine pasturing on the fertile heights at the Doon of Ballynure.

The bullocks having satisfied their thirst, journeyed on till they came to the elevation now called Bullock Hill, beside the Griese, opposite to Killeen Cormac. Here they halted, and refused to proceed farther, from which it appeared that Killeen was to be the last resting place of the king. The bullocks having done their part, returned homewards across the marsh, and were engulphed in the waters of the Griese.

[...] Another version of this legend, but more confused, places a hound on the team, which, when it stopped at Bullock Hill, jumped over to the cemetery, and left the impression of its paw on the pillar stone, thus marking the grave of Cormac; while another story represents this hound as jumping from the summit of Knockadhow, still more remote from the cemetery.
From 'The Inscribed Stones of Killeen Cormac' by J.F.S., in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record v4, no9, 1868. Comes with illustrations of the stones.

Dromin (Rath) — Folklore

There is a fort in Dromin in the land of Michael Seannel and it is a very eerie place. Many strange stories are told about it. One night a man by the name of Cronin was coming home from town and as he drew near the fort field he heard an awful noise. As he was passing the gate a big man asked him to play a football match with them and he said he could. The side that the man played with won the game and when it was over the man went home. When he reached home he went to bed.

When the people of the house got up next morning, Cronin was very bad and he was all black from head to foot. The people of the house sent for the doctor and the doctor said that there was nothing to be done for him but to send for the priest, and the priest came and he was anointed. About an hour or two later the man died because people say that he got a fairy stroke.

There is another story told about that place. One night a man was standing beside the wall and as he was just in the act of coming home he heard all the talk going down the field. The man says the people did not come up the road or down the road or go in the gate, but the talk was going down the field at the same time and Seannel's dog was barking.
More fairy weirdness from the Schools Collection of the 1930s, online at

Boagh (Rath) — Folklore

I mind seeing the finest crop of potatoes in the parish growing in that field beside Bough Fort. One day, six of us started to dig the potatoes. We had a good lot dug at dinner-time, more than they'd dig now.

We went over to the ditch to eat our dinners when, all of a sudden, what did we see but six women, wearing cloaks and hoods, coming out of the fort. They came, and started picking the potatoes into their aprons.

I can tell you we were well frightened, because something told us they were the daoine maithe you know. We let them alone, and they stayed picking for about ten minutes or so. They never looked towards us, but when they were finished, back with them again, and out of our sight.

We were too frightened to move for a bit, but when we went back to our work what did we find, that there was not a single potato missing. It is said, that it is not right to touch a stick or a stone in these old forts.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, being digitised at

According to the information via the Historic Environment Viewer, the rath "is enclosed by a substantial earthen bank and a wide, shallow, partly waterlogged fosse" - I guess the ditch of the story. The "daoine maithe" are the Good People, the fairies.

Shrough (Passage Grave) — Folklore

Not far from the Rock of Thorm there is a hill called Slieve Muc. There is a great crack in the hill. My grandmother told me that there was a great pig roaming around Slieve Muc so Finn and the Fianna went to kill it. When they found the pig they surrounded it. Finn, the leader, approached it with his sword in his hand. The pig, upon seeing Finn, attacked him. Finn fought for some time and wounded the pig. Then when the pig was tired, Finn, raising his sword above his head, put all his strength to one mighty stroke. The sword descended with such force that it severed the pig's head from its body and also made a great hole in the hill. It was from this episode that the hill got the Irish name of Slieve na Muc.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at

Mine Howe (Burial Chamber) — Folklore

Archaeologist Tom talking to Mick Aston on the Time Team episode about Mine Howe:
- So what do the local people think of this area then, Tom?

- Well I think it's always been considered as somewhere a bit special, a bit unusual.You've got [Mine Howe] here, this thing with this ditch around it which might pre-date it, you've got a medieval chapel over there, and you've got the burial ground as well and it's still in use. But people used to say that there were always things here, you know there were always stories related to this mound.

- What do you mean, things here?

- Well, they, um... back in the old days people believed in trows, which is the Orkney word for fairies...

- Fairies! (snort)

- Yeah they used to have a few ale houses on the way over to Durness and people used to have to stop and get tanked up before they could go past this place at night...

- Yeah? (incredulously)

- ... because they thought there was trows around.

- Because there were spirits about.

- mm and then when they got to Dingieshowe in Durness they would have to have a few more to go past that as well, because it was also believed to be an abode of trows. And there was actually a story about a fiddler that went into the mound of Dingieshowe and played for a night for a trow, and when he came out he discovered he'd been away for fourteen years! Everything had changed - apart from him, he was exactly the same.

- Is it not more to do with the local whiskey than anything else?

- Erm a bit of that probably as well the home brew, it certainly heightened the attention/tension.

Mine Howe (Burial Chamber) — Links

Channel 4

Time Team episode from the year 2000 on "The Mystery of Mine Howe", which includes an interesting little fly-through of a 3D model of the site (c24minutes in).

Loch Kinellan (Crannog) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Loch Kinellan</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Loch Kinellan</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Loch Kinellan</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Wardstown (Rath) — Folklore

In this district there is a large stone on the top of Ward's hill. It is said that when the Giants were in Ireland one of them was standing at Tara and threw the stone from there so it landed on the top of Ward's hill. This stone is on the hill ever since and the track of the Giant's five fingers is on the stone. Some people say that the Giant was at the races in Mullacurry and threw the stone from there. The fairies were supposed to dwell under the big stone.
A story from the Schools Collection at Duchas. ie. Perhaps that's the stone in Ryaner's photo.

Ettrick Bay (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Ettrick Bay</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Blackpark Plantation (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Blackpark Plantation</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Carnbaan (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Carnbaan</b>Posted by Rhiannon

St. Michael's (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>St. Michael's</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Bicker's Houses (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Bicker's Houses</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Kit's Coty (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Kit's Coty</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Ballingarry (Rath) — Folklore

Gubbin's Moat.

This is situated in the townland of Ballingarry, Barony Coshlea. A "light" was always associated with it. It is near a graveyard and the light was supposed to be seen going from there to the moat and back again. In my young days when passing by that moat (there is a double ditch beside it, a short cut to village of Ballylanders) we would walk very quietly and silently and never go nearer than the double ditch and we would not dream of crossing at night. Now all that fear is gone.

A story was told by my father (RIP) how one night about midnight he was returning from a hayrick and a light left this moat and went along the road before him and when he came to the crossroads near Ballingarry he heard trampling as if horses were travelling fast but saw nothing and the light was still there. The noise turned at the cross and went along the road whence he had come, towards the churchyard, and the light left him and also went back, and he could see the light facing for the moat again. He used to say that it was a funeral of someone who had been buried in a place he or she did not like and was coming back to their own burial ground.
I think this must be the right place from its proximity to the churchyard and the footpath. It's recounted in the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at

Doonglara (Glenbrohane) (Rath) — Folklore

Glenbrohane (Knocklary, Barony of Coshlea, and Co. Limerick) has a collection of moats. Hardly a farm that does not hold a moat and the old people and some of the younger generation hold these moats in great awe and veneration. No one would be allowed to cut a bush off one of them or interfere in any way with them, and stories are told of punishments meted out to some who did dare to interfere with them.
In this place are 13 or 14 moats and from the top of any one of them, three more are visible.

The largest moat of all is in a farm called Quane's, and is known as Quane's moat, and it is said to be the second largest in Munster, and it is said that it is from a chief who once lived there that the name Glenbrohane is got. The Glen of the Brohans (Brohan's being the name of the Chieftain). From this large moat, the others circle so that a complete half circle is formed by all. An underground channel connects all but so far, no one seems to have gone down and explored any of these passages.

One of these is said to have removed from one farm (Madden's) and goes across the river to another farm (Howard's) in one night. The hollow is in Madden's farm where they say the moat once stood. The late owner of the farm - Howard's - would not allow a bush to be cut from the moat, so that it is overgrown with furze bushes, and I remember myself as a child passing by that silently and very [sickened?] lest the fairies would hear us within. That idea prevailed in this place up to the last generation, who had a great dread of insulting the fairies or rousing their anger in any way, but at present bushes are being cut and these moats are regarded as part of the farms and no more. But when the antiquarians were excavating in Cush-Kilfinaine, Co Limerick, which is only one mile from here - a man who had a moat on his farm would not allow them interfere with it, lest there may be reprisals by the fairies.

Laune's Moat, in the townsland of Glenbrohane, is a very large moat and though it was overgrown a few years ago, a man came along and cut away all the furze from it, but he lost the farm, and the old people said that it was not right to interfere with the moat.

Story:- The owner of this - Morgan Laune (RIP) had made up his mind to cut the bushes from this one day, years and years ago. He had a very quiet old horse and he harnessed him meaning to take down a car to bring home the bushes. No sooner was he harnessed than away with him from under the car, towards the moat and fell dead at the entrance to the moat.
Ever after, no one ever interfered with that moat during his life time, but the bushes are being cut now and the grass mown off it.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, currently being transcribed here and here at I'm not sure which of the many moats are the ones referred to. The grid reference I've give is the largest and is named 'Doonglara' on an old map.

Cadbury Castle (South Cadbury) (Hillfort) — Folklore

Underneath a natural bower, on the bank of the lowest rampart but one, is a small arch of stone, covering a well of clearest water, fed by a spring that never in the fiercest drought runs dry. The overflowing stream makes a small pond below, but the well itself is almost out of sight under overhanging bushes, in the shadow of the north side of the hill.

This is King Arthur's Well. A miraculous fountain, into the depths of which you may still peer and see things strange and wonderful. In a basin, some two feet deep, the sheltered water, never moved by wind, lies still and pure as a transparent magic crystal.

[...] The well is also a wishing well. It was a picnic day when I was there - and to see the country maids trip down the foot-worn path between the trees, big and little, plump and lean, all in white frocks, and treading upon each other's heels, was better than a day-dream, ever so much. And they did drink. If they only wished as hard as they drank, there was a determination about it which, with a little patience and good-temper, and no fortune but a pretty face, was bound to bring success.

There is a ceremony with this sort of thing. Each spread her "hankercher" upon the broad, flat stone beside the well, turned up her white skirt, knelt, both nees, upon a petticoat as white, leant over the water and dropped an offering in, dipped with her hand and drank out of her hollow palm. She rose and gazed into the future with what, in the best fiction, is called a wistful, far-off look, until the next girl promptly elbowed her aside and said,
"Let I."

It was a Sunday School and Bible Class that I saw intoxicate itself with the secret desire of its own heart. The "titcher" stood on one side. A spinster, tall, thin, sharp-featured, and born, upon a moderate computation, not later than the early sixties. Through a pair of glasses, she watched this pagan rite, smiling with an air of superior toleration upon such follies, because it was a holiday. The bigger girls implored her to drink, too. "Now do ee, Miss ---," they all said. (In view of what came after, the name shall never be revealed by me.) "Do ee, then." But persuasion could not move her. She was a total abstainer, and would not touch a drop; and, presently, the girls all went off up the glade, she marching in the rear.

Soon an unaccountable thing happened. That woman came back, quickly, glancing behind and upon each side, to make sure no one saw. She dared not lift her skirt. She had not time to kneel. But she took a tumbler out of her pocket; plunged it in the spring; leaned forward as she held it dripping to her lips, and swallowed half-a-pint. Ah! She did not merely wish to quench her thirst. That is incredible, since there was tea upon the hill.
By Walter Raymond, in 'The Idler Out of Doors: Camelot' - The Idler, November 1898.

Spain (Country) — News

Palaeolithic art in Atxurra caves, Basque region

I'm not exactly sure why this is back in the news today - I'm guessing there's a report or paper somewhere that's just been released. The paintings are said to be amongst the best in Europe.

(The discovery of the paintings is mentioned in Goffik's 2011 post below.)

Avebury (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Avebury</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Stonehenge</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Avebury (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Avebury</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Ballyvocogue (Rath) — Folklore

In the townland of Ballyvocogue there is situated a fort. This fort belongs to Pat Kennedy. Some years ago a dog was seen coming out of the fort, and run along the bank of the fort. It is said that the dog used be throwing fire from his mouth, and all along the bank of the fort people used see burnt patches. The colour of this dog was white.
All the people in the district, and the people in the surrounding districts knew about this dog, and even some of the people in the district shunned that after sunset. No one knows how the dog went out of the fort but, he was not seen after the owner cutting down some of the trees on the bank of the fort.
This is rather odd - a white not a black dog. But it's still rather otherworldly what with barking fire everywhere. And also rather backwards is its disappearance after trees were cut, rather than the usual fairy disapproval of such things. Perhaps he actually wanted them cut so he could have more room to run around in, dogs being dogs and all. From the 1930s Schools Collection being digitised at

Lisbanagher (Rath) — Folklore

Quite close to this school on the top of a hill there is a fort which is situated in the townland of Lisbanagher.

Formerly the fort was surrounded by a wall which is now crumbled to heaps of stones, and on this there are trees growing.

It is said that chiefs lived there long ago. In the middle of the fort the chiefs used have castles, but there is no trace of these castles now.
Some chiefs had a good deal of money and used have three walls around their castles and smaller chiefs used have two walls and smaller still used have one wall for protection from their enemies.

The people are in awe of these forts because they say they are inhabited by fairies.

I heard the following story told about the fort.

One morning Mrs Morrison who lives near the fort, got up early. She went to the door and looked out and was surprised to see a great many tiny little men with little creels on their backs coming down to the bog for turf. She went into the house again and said that she got up too early.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, being digitised at

Kesh Corran Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Folklore

There is a hill in this locality called Keash Hill. Caves at the back of this hill are still pointed out as places where giants lived. Nearby there is a hollow with a flag flooring which is called the "Giants' Table" and likely it is here they cooked and eat their food.

Running parallel to this hill and at the back of it is a place called "Dun Ui Bhéara" where the Cailleach Bhéara is supposed to have lived.

Old people tell stories of a fight between the Cailleach Bhéara and one of the giants. He stood on the summit of the hill and fired stones down at her. She lifted stones and earth and fired them up at him. The stones that reached the top of the hill form a "cairn" which is still to be seen. The place from which they were taken formed a small lake which remains to the present day.

Some time ago if children were bold their mothers threatened to tell Cailleach Bhéara and immediately they got quiet. She was able to walk across Lough Arrow and the waters at their deepest part just reached her arm pit.
From the Schools Project of the 1930s, now being digitised at

St. Lythans (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>St. Lythans</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>St. Lythans</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>St. Lythans</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>St. Lythans</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>St. Lythans</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Pentre Ifan (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Pentre Ifan</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Pentre Ifan</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Bachwen Burial Chamber (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Bachwen Burial Chamber</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Buckstone (Rocking Stone) — Images

<b>The Buckstone</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>The Buckstone</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>The Buckstone</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Buckstone (Rocking Stone) — Miscellaneous

Restoration of the Celebrated "Buckstone" Rock.

The above wonderful mass of old red sandstone conglomerate, which was celebrated all through Britain as a rocking stone and Druidic altar, it will be remembered, was accidentally thrown from its position on the summit of a high wooded hill, about three miles from Monmouth, on the road to Coleford, on the 10th of June last. Not only were the people of the immediate neighbourhood indignant, but the London daily papers took the matter up very warmly, the Standard especially.

The huge mass is the property of the Crown, and is too well-known far and wide to again need description in these columns. As soon as he heard of the catastrophe, Mr. C. H. Crompton-Roberts, of Drybridge House, Monmouth, offered £100 towards its restoration. The Mayor of Monmouth and others put themselves in communication with the Crown authorities, who ultimately determined to restore the celebrated rock at the entire expense of the Crown.

The undertaking was one of great difficulty, the huge mass having its chief block, about 50 tons weight, turned upside down, and partly buried in the earth. The enormous top slab, or stratum, had slipped off and fallen beyond the chief block, but right side up.

Messrs. Payne and Son, stone contractors, of Lambsquay House, Coleford, were appointed to carry out the work. The contractors erected two enormous cranes and a powerful crab on the hill above the fallen rock. Then large baulks of timber were placed with the ends under the chief block, and iron rails were laid on these baulks. About six tons of chains were attached to the chief block for the purpose of "skidding" it up to a position for turning, which, after a considerable time, was accomplished. The top stratum was then hoisted adjacent to the chief stone, and the large corner was also brought to a convenient position. This was the work of months.

A plateau for the stone to rest on was then made, with an enormous iron bar let into the solid rock beneath, a bed of cement made of the best material, mixed with similar stone to the Buckstone ground up, having been prepared. The top slab was then raised into its position, being cemented and cramped on, and the corner was afterwards affixed by the same means.

The result is that the work is now completed in a most satisfactory and highly creditable manner. The rock, when the cranes, &c. are removed, will, as it now stands, scarcely, if at all, appear to have sustained any alteration, especially from the road below. Mr K. Tudor Williams, photographer, of Monmouth, has shown us some photographs of the Buckstone both before and after the overthrow and in the course of being lifted. We understand that the rock will be railed round, to prevent future mishap, and that an opening will be cut between the rock and the road, so as to afford a good view of the Buckstone to those who pass by.
From the 'Western Mail', December 15th, 1885.

Lanyon Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Miscellaneous

On the 10th instant, this celebrated stone, which weighs about thirteen tons, and which fell from its ancient situation on the night of the 19th October, 1815, during one of the most violent and destructive storms of wind ever remembered in that part of the country, was replaced by the united and indefatigable exertions of Lieut. GOLDSMITH and Capt. GIDDY, with the aid of the materials and machinery employed about the Logan Rock, and which the Honourable Navy Board consented to grant them for so laudable a purpose.
From 'The Morning Post', December 16th, 1824. Goldsmith and Giddy must have been on a roll and thought they might as well sort out the quoit after their success at the superb Treryn Dinas. I suppose Goldsmith thought people might then let him off for toppling the logan stone in the first place?!

Breiddin Hill Camp (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Breiddin Hill Camp</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Ystumcegid (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Ystumcegid</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Ystumcegid (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Folklore

Having gratified my curiosity at [Coeten Arthur], I made for a farm, a mile off, called Ystym Cegid, where I had the pleasure of beholding another, the most beautiful of any I had seen in my journey; the farmer, however, through a natural propensity to render any thing useful that may lie on the ground, has converted it into a sheepfold, by filling up the interstices with stones, very dissimilar to those originally erected to support the coping-stone, of the Cromlech: I have left them out, and the annexed print will shew its prior appearance. The coping-stone takes a triangular form, its thickness is about eighteen inches every where, and it measures thirty-six feet round; it is raised so high as to allow a person on horseback to go underneath. This also is called Arthur's Quoit: which (to carry on the story [at Coeten Arthur]) we may suppose to have been thrown by the same hand; but, owing to a slip of the foot, in the moment of exertion, it went wide of the mark at least one mile.
From Edward Pugh's 'Cambria Depicta' (1816).

Parys Mountain (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Images

<b>Parys Mountain</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Parys Mountain</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Maumnahaltora (Wedge Tomb) — Images

<b>Maumnahaltora</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Maumnahaltora</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Lavally (Portal Tomb) — Images

<b>Lavally</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Lavally (Portal Tomb) — Folklore

In the village of Lavally about three miles from Clarenbridge there lies a Cromlech. The field where this Cromlech lies belongs to Thomas Heaney now but it was sold to him a few years ago by William Feeney. The Cromlech lies within 20 yds of the road wall. This field belonged to William Feeney when the Cromlech fell about eight years ago.

It is thought that this Cromlech would not have fallen only for a constant grazing of the sheep wore the clay from around the three standing stones so that they could not afford to hold up the top stone. The top stone is about 26 1/2 feet in circumference and about a foot and a half in height. The perimeter of the underneath is about 14'2".

It is not known for certainty why this Cromlech was erected. Most people think that this was a druid altar in olden times but it is also thought that Diarmuid and Grainne took shelter under this Cromlech. There is also another stone in the wall not far from the Cromlech and is exactly like the stones of the Cromlech. It is thought that this stone was brought to be put in the Cromlech but it was brought no further.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at Duchas.

It's not looking so good at Lavally, as you can see by this 2002 photo on FourWinds' Megalithomania site.

The illustration from Borlase's 'The Dolmens of Ireland' book (made towards the end of the 19th century) shows rocks on top of the dolmen. This isn't mentioned in the text. But it rings a bell with me... I'm sure I've read about people somewhere throwing stones up onto cromlechs for luck, or maybe for a more specific outcome. I'll have to look into it. Maybe people still do it elsewhere...

Ty Newydd (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Miscellaneous

In 1844 I visited [Anglesey] and took a drawing of the double cromlech at Llanvaelog, one of the best in the island. One cromlech was erect; the other by its side, thrown down: or rather, I should say that the two constitued the remains of a large chambered mound - perhaps of a cromlech with a passage, as at Bryn Celli in the same island.

The cap-stone of that which was erect measured thirteen feet and a half in length by about five feet in depth and width at the thickest part. The cap of the fallen one was broken in two, but when entire it was not less than fifteen feet long. Fortunately this drawing remains in my portfolio; and it shews the importance of preserving memorials of these early monuments, whenever opportunity offers, made with all possible care; for since then the fallen cromlech has utterly disappeard; and the upright one has been so seriously damaged, that its destruction will now be the work of only a few winters - all through the sheer stupidity of men!

I had occasion to pass by the spot last summer, and on going to renew my acquaintance with this venerable monument, found nothing more remaining than what is represented in the accompanying engraving. An "improving tenant" had come upon the farm. He wanted to repair his walls; and though the native rock cropped out all around, he found it more convenient to blast the fallen stone, the very existence of which was probably unknown to either the landlord or his agent. Hence the fallen one disappeared. The tenant, however, seems to have been in some degree aware of the importance of the erect cromlech; for he cut a kind of trench all round it, and by subsequent ploughings has left it standing on a kind of low mound. Formerly it stood in a grass field, among gorse bushes, with no wall near it, and only some broken embankments with Anglesey hedges on the top.

A few years ago the land came by inheritance, on the death of Lord Dinorben, to the present possessor of Kinmel; and the tenant, desirous of shewing respect to his new landlord, determined to celebrate the occasion with a bonfire. This fire he lighted on the top of the cromlech; and though the stone was five feet thick, the action of the fire and the air split the ponderous mass right through the middle, crossways! Of course this injury was not intended; but it was well known and lamented in the neighbourhood, - for several labouring people mentioned the circumstance to me, and regretted it. As it now stands, the combined action of autumn rains and winter frosts will infallibly enlarge the crack, and will complete the disintegration of the stone. The cap, too, stands now on only three stones, and is in the most imminent danger of coming down altogether, for one of them supports it by an extremely small point, very near one of the sides of the triangle of gravity; and so fine is this point, that it is a wonder how it can withstand the great pressure bearing upon it.

The stones are all of a metamorphic character, containing crystals of quartz, chlorite, and feldspar; almost granitic in texture.

Ten men, with three or four horses and some powerful levers, would repair this cromlech in a single day, and guarantee its preservation for ages. But will they do so?

Oct. 25, 1863.
An impassioned article called 'Cromlech at Llanvaelog, Anglesey' in Archaeologia Cambrensis Jan 1864. Both of HLJ's sketches are in the Images section above.
Showing 1-50 of 4,014 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.

-- Alan Garner.

...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...

-- William Wordsworth.

I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:

and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at

My TMA Content: