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


Stone Circle


It’s been fifteen weeks since my visit to An Bheitheach Mhór (Beitheach Mór), a second visit here in five months. Back in May the torrential rain forced us back to the car after a cursory 5 minutes. It was my mate Paulie’s first time there, my second and it was a complete washout. Now, this last time, it was overcast and we had the place to ourselves, bar the hippy couple making out in their van in the car-park.

I took no fieldnotes. So all I’ve got are memories, and photos. So what do I think of when I think of Beaghmore? Well it’s quite an intimidating prospect. Discussion of stone circles seems to focus on their purpose. In the three times I’ve visited the site I’ve not thought once of ceremony nor ritual. The immediate reaction, at least my own, is one of awe. Twice I’ve had people with me and they’ve been the same. And then, because there’s so much going on, perplexity.

So then when I return to the literature back at home I’m looking for an explanation, one that I don’t seek when I’m there. Which is curious in a way, or not so much if you give it a bit more thought. Because Beaghmore is what it is before you interpret it and all you can do is wander about, dazed and bedazzled and yes, perplexed, but so what?

I know it’s stating the obvious but there’s stones everywhere. In fact Beaghmore is the stoniest of all the stony places I’ve visited (maybe Maeve’s cairn has more stones but you know what I mean). Entering the site from the east it’s all very manicured – immediately inside the fence are two not quite conjoined circles with a small cairn in between. Four splayed alignments rush off to the north-east from either side of the cairn, meeting the boundary you’ve just entered and terminating in a small, cleared green area.

After this initial encounter, your mind, like a kid in a sweetshop, starts to get pulled around the place. Your eyes are drawn further in to the next two almost conjoined ‘circles’ and their not quite tangential alignments and then further still to Circle E whose interior is described by Burl as containing ‘a wilderness of sharpened stones like a fakir’s bed.’ There are many tall stones here in another mad alignment, like the rest of them at Beaghmore seemingly reaching towards the north-east beseechingly.

South of these, and almost separate from them, are two more stone circles and an intriguing barrow-like earthen ring with a cairn at its centre. This cairn, like the other 9 or so at Beaghmore, is small. An alignment here, close to the western stone circle but not quite touching it, heads off in… you guessed it, a north-easterly direction, back towards the ‘main’ part of the complex. Everyone who comments seems to be assured that there’s more to be discovered under the peat in the surrounding fields and I can’t say I disagree.

Whatever its purpose, or ‘meaning’ if you like, Beaghmore is a stone-lovers wonderland, a possible portal into the soul of bronze-age man/woman, if that is what floats your boat. Either way it’s downright trippy, spaced-out and weird in its own right without the need for plant or chemical inducements (though again, whatever floats your boat).
ryaner Posted by ryaner
21st December 2021ce

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