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Dungiven Standing Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Miscellaneous

In antiquarian prints showing the area there is a view of the mountian Benbradagh that states it is painted as "The view from Dungiven standing stone". This view is the view you would have north if the modern church did not stand in the way. This indicates that the stone has been used as a marking point for a long time.

The stone itself is beside what is the main east west route over the Sperrin mountians (along the Roe valley and over the Glenshane pass) and may have been famous (due to its size and easy location) as a way point. At the time of the above print it would have stood well outside the town though it has now been overtaken.

Dungiven Standing Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

This is a tall rectangular standing stone about 7 and a half feet at its tallest point located on a mound behind the modern Catholic church in Dungiven. The church is on the main road east out of the town and the stone itself can be accessed by climbing over the fence at the back of the grave yard.

The stone is a tall rectangular stone about 4 foot wide and 0.5 - 1 ft thick. It stands on what appears to be a man made mound about 6 foot about the datum of the hill its on. The mound its on is on the north side of the river Roe (which rises about 7 miles east between Glenshane and Coolnasillagh mountains). The ruins of an old Celtic church are in the small valley below it. The current church it stands behind would only be about 150 years old.

Its orientation (along its width) is roughly east west so that it faces north and south.

The stone itself is impressive in its size and location. Its large flat surface is covered in lichen and the vibe about it is a definite male one. The day I was there was a warm summers day (by norn iron standards) and the view out to the south ran parallel to the Glenelly valley and over the bog land. To the north stands Benbradagh mountain. Whether its location (above an old church and beside a new one) is any indication of the areas usage is unknown.

Browne's Hill (Portal Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Massive dolman just outside Carlow town. Cap stone is 130 tons and is said to be the biggest in Europe. It has a small layby for cars.

One word about this is MASSIVE. The capstone itself is made of granite and I still have the scrapes in my belt buckle from where I scrabbled up. The dolman itself feels much more like a huge rock they managed to prop up with some stones and its a good way down if you fell off the top.

Over all the site felt to me much more male (a la Stonehenge) in its vibe. Not somewhere I felt relaxed but some where I relaxed as I left.

Grianan of Ailech (Stone Fort / Dun) — Fieldnotes

The second picture of the Grainan shows the single entry door and a smaller portal low on the wall. This portal opens into a small passage that runs round the inner wall to a wall forming one of the walls of the doors passage. The portal is about 2 foot high but opens up to about 3-4 foot inside getting gradually larger until it reaches the inside of the doorway passage.

This doorway passage is about 8-10 foot (I think, didn't measure) long as it is the full thickness of the wall. If you go into the small passage (bring a torch, its pitch dark) and follow the curve round you will find a little light at the end where gaps in the rocks in the wall at the end let light in from from the main passage. Some gaps are big enough to stick a hand out. From the main passage looking at the wall you would have difficulty finding this hole.

There is a similar portal and passage curving round on the right hand side of the fort (looking out through the door) but the end wall is solid. This entrance is smaller.

Inside both of the passages its damp and cool with a loose rock floor. The roof is uneven so bring a torch or you'll skull yerself! Don't think its encouraged to crawl round these passages as they would not be considered safe.

Not sure what these passages are for as they must be part of the rebuild from the 1800s. There appears to be one opposite the main door but having seen the old rebuild plans which show both the above passages I think it may just be missing stones or a drain.

The fort itself (while rebuilt) is one of the most impressive in Ireland and commands an unrivaled view over loughs Foyle and Swilly. Just down from it is a spring (called a holy well, but most springs in Ireland are). An amazing place to be on a sunny day!

Tirnoney (Portal Tomb) — Folklore

The proper name for this dolman is Tirnoney after the townland its situated in. A townland is a fairly Norn Iron concept of an area of land known by a certian name outside a town.

A bit of folklore associated with the dolman is related to a near by farm house. The house was built by a farming family called Morrison and sits between the dolman and and old church yard called Killelagh church. It can be seen marked on OS maps but is very hard to find on the ground (even for me and I've walked all over this area all my life!) as only the raised enclosure remains.

The story goes that when the big farm house was originaly built (18something) that the wife of the farmer saw a carved stone in the old grave yard she thought was very beautiful so she got her husband to put it up as the lintel of the new door. So the stone was dug out and put up.

However once the stone was in place it supposedly screamed for an hour at midnight each night and dripped blood. The wife of the farmer could only take this for a few days before she ordered her husband to take it down and return it to the church yard from whence it came.

To this day the small wood just east of the dolman and farm house is still known localy as Morrisons rock. This is a local story I was told as a child (I live close to the dolman).
Born in County Derry I've spent a lot of time wandering round the various stone circles and hill forts in Ulster. Lot of formative years spent sitting atop Tirnoney dolman!

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