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Ballyroe (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

A wonderful site. Two boulder burials, about 65m apart, with magnificent views to Corran and Carrigfadda. The pyramidal shape of the eastern boulder - 2.5m*1.4m*1.35m, according to the Archaeological Inventory - mirrors the shape of the latter.

Permission to visit may be obtained from the farm on the other side of the road.

Baurnahulla (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Large - 2.3m * 2.1m * 1.2m according to the Archaeological Inventory - with long views to the north and west. Four support stones, although only two and a scattering of field debris were immediately apparent.

Permission to visit may be obtained from the nearby farm.

Carrigillihy (Cup Marked Stone)

Visible from the farm track and 82m southwest of the stone group, is a protruding rock, flat-faced on its northeastern side. Careful study of the larger, left-hand segment of this striated panel reveals an almost perfect semicircle of cup-shaped depressions, none wider than a stout fingertip. Close to the ground, on the lower, right-hand section, is a deeply scored lattice pattern.

This may well be the "cupmarked stone" recorded on, but it sits in a different part of the field, 58m west of the given coordinates.

Kilmogue (Portal Tomb)

The Titan, Atlas, was ordered to stand and support the high heavens on his shoulders, a comparison that often comes to mind at portal tombs; all those vast blocks held from plummeting by ancient limbs and ingenuity. None is held higher than here, the tallest (portal tomb) portal stones in the British Isles; 3.6m and 3.5m from the ground and capped by a great horned firmament, starred, appropriately, with blazing quartz.

Equally impressive is the symbiosis between this primus and the secondary capstone. Neither, being otherwise supported on just one side, would stay aloft without its companion. The former rests on one portal and the doorstone, then pins the latter onto the backstone and a pad on one sidestone. Have a look at Ryaner's photograph, from behind the monument, for a partial illustration.

*Measurements taken from the (very, very thorough): Kytmannow, 'Portal Tombs In The Landscape', BAR 455, 2008, 37. Great book.

Killinga (Cup Marked Stone)

A low, upright pillar, jutting from the rushes and bushes. Then, behind this growing screen, a vast recumbent slab; 2.7m long, 2m wide and 1.45m thick*.

Recorded in the Archaeological Inventory, following local tradition, as a mass rock, it may eventually provide an interesting comparison to a similarly classed and cup-marked boulder at Coorleigh South. Due to the heavy scrub on the south-eastern side of the stone, Jack Roberts' sketch remains the only visual record of the marks or 'circular depressions'**.

The fallen part of a NE-SW stone pair, if position and local morphology (Knockatlowig, Knockawaddra W) are taken into account.

*Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.3271, 354.
**Roberts, J., 'Exploring West Cork', 1988; Ch.2, No.12, 53.

Coolnaconarty (Standing Stones)

A couple of fields east of the cross at Killmeen Creamery and a short distance south of the road, are two stones, recorded separately in the Archaeological Inventory*. Only 26m divides them - a unique stretch if they initially formed a stone row, but uncommonly close for individual standing-stones. Both were knocked accidentally, by a reversing trailer, some time before the compilation of the Inventory records.

The northern slab has been partially re-erected and the stone on which it balances, though tall, may be an original support. There is no guarantee that the southern stone is exactly at its original position. A shallow depression in the ground, a couple of metres to the east, could as easily be the source. The present positions seem to roughly agree, however, with those shown on the early 20th century OS map - forming an inter-stone alignment running NNW-SSE. This, given human error, would match the N-S upright-slab orientation recalled by the landowner. The direction is, again, of course, unusual for a local stone row, but may not rule out the remains of some large free-standing monument or habitation.

Permission to visit may be obtained from the farmhouse on the opposite side of the road. One for the obsessive, perhaps.

*Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.302, No.303, 51

Knocks (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Visible on the rise to the west of the road between the circles of Knocks N and Knocks S is this leaning pillar; 1.25m high* and intermittently pocked, as if by wormholes, on its flat top surface. Its longer axis is oriented NE-SW. The 1st Edition OS Map indicates an accompanying stone, most likely a paired continuation of the orientation.

*Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.427, 61

Burgatia (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Laid close to the summit on the eastern side of Burgatia hill and obvious in a field to the left of a road junction as you drive north, is this striking egg-shaped cap-stone; 2.25m by 1.7m and 1.4m thick*. It is lifted and supported by the inside edges of two blocks, the eastern and larger of which is a quartz conglomerate. Clearly visible at the next junction and almost disconcertingly close across the valley to the east, is Bohonagh stone circle.

This is an area, associated with St. Fachtna, where historic and early Christian curl tightly with the prehistoric. Immediately across the road are the remains of Lisfachtna and Templefachtna.

*Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.104, 30

Ahaghilla (Stone Circle)

A daunting puzzle, but the pieces may still be there - six or seven likely stones are mixed with the still-extending field clearance fill. Three stones remain on the perimeter. The two to the northeast; one intact and flat-topped, one a stump, look likely to be portals but the third survivor; the axial-stone, is set on a line to the north of the complete pillar and its companion.

It seems probable, given its disposition, that this stone has been pushed south a full quarter-turn and would have originally featured an upper internal concave area (22cm wide in this case), similar to Lettergorman S. A revised mid-portal-axial line would strike a notch in the high ground across the valley, about five degrees further north.

The circle is set just north of a low knoll. Only brief glimpses of distance are available between hills to the NE and ESE, but a wide vista, with a well-marked horizon, is provided to the SW.

The very obliging owner of this land lives in the farmhouse on the same by-road, immediately to the west.

Maulatanvally (Standing Stones)

Possibly the most intriguing site in the whole Argideen/Rosscarbery area - four stones, three of quartz; a unit of two sets of parallel pairs, rising from the spine of the hill. Two of the quartz stones, the southernmost of each pair, are included in the fence. The western rock is recumbent but the eastern is standing, 2.3m distant*. The third juts 1.4m north of and parallel to, the western stone.

The remaining slab, of sandstone, was recently tumbled (by cattle) from a position 1m north of the eastern rock and its southern tip now points to the base of its partner in the wall. All, assuming the recumbent quartz is fallen, would have stood in an ENE-WSW arrangement of fairly uniform appearance - each around 1m in height.

The slope is east facing but, at this particular location on the hill, it is possible to see clearly to the north, east and south. The view is only restricted to the west. It is also a position in which the monument itself could be seen from many directions, but from a distance. If the quartz boulder at Lettergorman S is an original feature its placing may reflect this - the white stones of Maulatanvally are bright on the horizon if you gaze out from the circle and over the top of the rock.

*All measurements taken from Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.921, 112.

Coorleigh South (Cup Marked Stone)

This carved and cup-marked boulder, classified by the Archaeological Inventory as a mass-rock, is raised on the north-eastern side of a shallow basin, with mid-range views to the south and west. Cup-marked rocks are not plentiful in this area but there is a light scattering along the south coast, between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery.

The boulder is imposing, coffin shaped; 2.08m long, 1.42m wide, 0.57m thick (measurements from Archaeological Inventory), shouldered by two blocks - each placed centrally under a flank - and what appears to be a mound of smaller stones under the north-eastern, quartz-tipped end. It is aligned, along its longer axis, NE-SW. While it looks like a possible (south-west opening) boulder-burial, its traditional reputation as a mass-rock could point to a more recent, early 18th Century origin.

The top surface contains eleven cup marks, 3cm to 5cm in diameter and grouped on a raised shelf; part of a defined central rectangle. This shape is lightly marked on the longer sides, just inside the width of the stone, but deeply trenched where it separates from the main body; grooves 7cm wide and 3cm deep, 1.1m apart and parallel. The exterior of the rectangle is 1cm lower that the interior.

While tempting to imagine the entire assemblage as some prehistoric magnum opus, it seems more likely that the outline carving was done at a later date, possibly as an altar elaboration in penal times. The cup marks, gracefully curve-patterned, must be part of a much older - Bronze Age, at least - design on the same feature.

Just over 1km north-east, in the town-land of Gortnascarty and immediately to the rear of the ruins of Kilkerranmore church and graveyard, is another possible boulder-burial - classified in the Inventory as a "megalithic structure" (W36351 38865). No support stones are visible underneath. Two jagged upright slabs, perhaps the remnants of a NE-SW alignment or, less likely, part of a kerbing arrangement, lead from the south-eastern end of the monument. Given the proximity of the graveyard, these could be ancient grave-markers but, if so, they would have been placed unusually close to its side.

The boulder at Coorleigh South is not marked on the OS map so it may be best to just plot these GPS coordinates and look out for it on the south side of the road. The very obliging landowners live in the farm-buildings on the same side of the road, on the rise to the east.

Thanks to Reg for pointing this one out to me.

Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.3263, 353 (Coorleigh South); No.934, 114 (Gortnascarty).

Milleennagun (Wedge Tomb)

Mired in the remnants of a junction of field fences, on a low rise above a by-road and about 1km ENE of the four-poster at Lettergorman N, this is the only wedge-tomb in the Argideen/Rosscarbery area. It is located a considerable distance south and east of the general concentrations of its class, at the northern edge of the circle/row/boulder-burial 'complex' that dominates the land east of Carrigfadda. Views from this position are long to the east, north and west, but bounded to the south by the rise to Knockawaddra. The tomb itself opens out (roughly) WSW, towards a point north of Kippagh.

Only three standing slabs, of the four mentioned in the Inventory, are visible. One to the north of the gallery and two, of the recorded three, at the southern side. These two stones form the shade of what must have been a substantial double-wall. At least a couple of small boulders, one ended in quartz, are wedged tightly between them, but it's unclear whether or not these were original fill. All three side-stones lean over to the north and a large block props the southernmost slab at its base.

A stout quartz-ended boulder at the eastern tip of the monument is surely too low to be the 'displaced backstone' and there is no sign of the prostrate 'displaced sidestone or roofstone' in the heavy surrounding growth.

Beyond the north-eastern corner of the field, on the other side of an old track that leads east from the by-road, is an enigmatic, blade-like standing stone; 2.25m high and aligned NNE-SSW, called 'The Pillar'. If the intervening hedges were removed the two monuments would occupy, but at a polite distance, the same space; a juxtaposition similar to the circle/row and wedge-tomb at Glantane N.

Given Dr. William O'Brien's discovery of a prolonged use-history at Altar wedge-tomb, it may be worth considering the possibility that this pillar was a Late Bronze Age attempt to share what must have been judged an important, unique location. Or, perhaps, to link it with the ritual-centres on the other side of the hill. A line projected SSW from its main axis cuts east of the Knockawaddra rows, across the Glashagloragh valley towards Glanbrack.

Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.34, 18 (wedge-tomb); No.452, 63 (standing stone).

Knockatlowig (Stone Row / Alignment)

Three, maybe four stones, situated slightly back from the summit of a low hill; the view is considerable to the north and east, but bounded to the south by the proximity of higher ground at Knocklady/Clasharusheen and to the west by the field boundary hedge and the rise to the hilltop - another example of an Argideen/Rosscarbery row being unable to 'see' as much as it could if situated a short distance away.

Like Knockawaddra E the blindfold is partial (the Carrigfadda peaks are still visible), but in its apparent direction of indication. A look over the fence, on a roughly projected line southwestward from the row, reveals a glorious field-patch view, across the Argideen valley, to a point somewhere on the high ground at Clashatarriff. Visible with the naked eye, if you know where you're looking, are the row at Knocks and the circle at Knocks S.

The alignment, as it originally stood, would have been a close, though oppositely focused, relation to Knockawaddra W; a swan guiding her cygnets in gliding procession or a tall sail in the bow - a huge 3m pillar to establish the direction for the line. There is a curious little additional block rooted in the ground just beside this fallen stone and mentioned in the Inventory, but it's difficult to guess at its purpose if it was an original feature.

Best to ask at the farmhouse at the end of the track, running up straight from the right angle bend on the by-road, for directions and access details. He's not the owner but he was kind enough to point me in the right direction.

Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.156, 36

Ballyvackey (Stone Circle)

At least a couple of interesting features here:

There seems to be either two or four stones missing; the northern portal, the stone that would have been immediately to the south of the axial and perhaps two more set opposite each other on the north and south sides. The remains of Templebryan and Knocks S pose the same reimagining problem.

Of the remaining stones, all except the southern portal have, to some degree, flattened smooth tops. It's not unusual to come across a stone or two like this at any site, but all? Either there was a pressing ritual need for the elaboration or else this building group took particular pride in their work. The second orthosatat to the south of the axial, like that at Knocks N, is the most table-like.

The axial stone is almost a straight lift from Bohonagh; an inward-leaning, smooth top, bisected on its length by a seam and ending on its northern side with a downward slope.

The entrance stone is radially set, a feature shared by Bohonagh, Knocks N, Knocks S, Carrigagrenane S and Maulatanvally - all local circles in the Argideen/Rosscarbery group. Templebryan, Drombeg, Reenascreena, Ahagilla and Lettergorman S have their portals set on the circumference.

The large, clam-like stone, to the north of the circle, is listed in the Archaeological Inventory as a boulder-burial, though qualified in the midst of their description with a 'possible'. There is no sign of any support stones and the accompanying standing stone is also missing. This may now be the half-covered, ground-level flag on the western side - it would originally have stood only 50cm high.

The landowners live in the farmhouse on the opposite side of the main road, to the south.

Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.43 (Stone Circle); No.99 (Boulder Burial); No.242 (Standing Stone)
Cope, 'The Megalithic European', 2004; 252

Letter (site E) (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

A typically impressive disc, set on the southern valley slope of the Argideen river; over two metres in diameter and almost a metre thick.

The measurements provided by the Archaeological Inventory for the immediate area are:
Caherkirky - 2.4m by 2.2m; 1m thick / 1.7m by 1.3m; 0.8m thick
Knocks (East) - 1.8m by 1.7m; 0.9m thick / 2.4m by 2.4m; 0.6m thick / 2m by 1.3m; 0.65m thick
Letter - 2.3m by 2.1m; 0.8m thick

One almost wonders if there was a form of Bronze Age grading in effect - an upper limit beyond which the stones would prove too cumbersome and a lower limit to ensure an impact on the landscape. The only significant deviations from this size are in the boulders accompanying the stone circles around Kealkil, although similarly connected sites, such as Gurteen and Kenmare, further north in Kerry, have the typical stand-alone dimensions:
Mill Little - 1.5m by 1.3m; 1.25m thick / 1.9m by 1.5m; 1.3m thick / 1.35m by 0.85m; 0.9m thick
Cappanaboul - 1.6m by 1.5m; 0.7m thick
Breeny More - 1.4m by 1.35m; 0.5m thick / 1.3m by 0.8m; 0.7m thick / 1.8m by 1m; 0.8m thick / 1.7m by 1.2m; 0.9m thick
Maughanaclea - 1.5m by 1.05m; 0.6m thick / 1.5m by 1m; 0.6m thick
It's an interesting question - did these smaller monuments reflect local restrictions on availability of suitable stone, or was the construction more affected by other factors such as inter-site influence, or local tradition?

Dr. William O'Brien's excavation at the Cooradarrigan boulder-burial uncovered intriguing evidence of a wedge-shaped post-surround, widening towards the entrance feature on the northern side, which was in turn 'blocked' by another post. The open side of the boulder-burial at Bohonagh was found to contain a stone socket with uprooted slab which the excavator, E.M. Fahy, proposed as defining an entrance gap to the north-west. Though possibly not a universal rule, the arrangement of support stones underneath the cover often leaves one side open, varying in orientation from monument to monument.

The structure at Letter opens slightly west of north, tilted upwards like a cannon on just two forward supports, the western of which is further elaborated, double-portal fashion, by a large pyramidal quartz block. If a target was intended, it would seem to have faced directly toward a broad rise in a valley, across the Argideen at Knockea. Visible on the western horizon, but not indicated, is the Carrigfadda range.

Three letters (M/A/T) are roughly scribed on the western side; presumably an acronym or abbreviation left behind by someone as a mark of their presence and noted by Jack Roberts in his 1988 survey.

The owners of this site, which can be easily accessed from an adjacent farmyard, live in the bungalow at the south-eastern corner of the field.

Archaeological Inventory of Cork 1992, No.125; 32
Fahy, E., 'A Stone Circle, Hut and Dolmen at Bohonagh, Co. Cork', JCHAS 66, 1961; 94
O'Brien, W., 'Boulder-Burials: A Later Bronze Age Megalith Tradition in South-West Ireland', JCHAS 97, 1992; 11-35
O'Nuallain, S., 'Boulder-Burials', PRIA 78 C, No.22; 92
Roberts, J., 'Exploring West Cork', 1988; Ch.1. No.21; 35

Sarue (Stone Row / Alignment)

A bit of a conundrum this one. Jack Roberts mentions a standing stone and boulder/'cromlech', but the Archaeological Inventory has a stone pair, one fallen. O'Nuallain doesn't include the site in his survey of Stone Rows.

If it is a stone pair then the northeastern stone would seem to have fallen in such a way as to send its base back up the slope, although it's possible that it may not originally have stood in line with the flat face of the southwestern stone. This standing stone is slab-like, arrow-tip shaped. The prostrate one is a thick, heavy bludgeon - the demise of older technology mimed in stone. Both stones are substantial, broad on the land.

Certain characteristics, beyond the obligatory NE-SW orientation, are shared with the other local stone pair at Knockawaddra; both sites are screened by a rise to the north - a short distance would have carried them to a position with extensive views in most directions; and both sites are situated on the north side of a tributary of the Argideen, on a line roughly adjacent to the run of the stream. If the row at Knocks really is a pair it would complete the set, to the north of the Argideen itself.

It could presumably be argued that if the rivers were a focus of the monuments, then any other positioning - with a greater view of near-by landscape features, would dilute the desired effect. However the rivers themselves are not visible from the monument platforms. Perhaps the pairs could have represented the water, when seen from above, or have been a destination to walk up to from the river below? The flat face of the standing stone here is aligned on an obvious 'u' on the southwestern horizon and may merit further investigation.

The site is located in the second field up, to the right of an old track-way extending straight from the newer road. This road splits at the joining point and permission to visit may be obtained by following the right-hand section, to the farmhouse at the end. Small bit of electric-fence vaulting but no major problems.

Roberts, 'Exploring West Cork', 1988; Ch.6 No.14; 134
Archaeological Inventory of Cork Vol. 1, 1992; No.200; 42

Just a slight addition here:
In relation to the blinkered aspect of the two rows, Fourwinds has suggested that a position on the crown of the hill, as opposed to the summit, would make them more visible to people living close-by and from below. To be seen, rather than to see. Tiompan takes a slightly different tack, moving away from considerations of vision, and suggests a 'protecting' effect in having the rim above, or that the pairs may have marked a boundary, delineated by the river below.
Thank you both very much.

Knocks (East) (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

An interesting combination of features are present at this site, set by a minor junction to the Clonakilty-Enniskeane road, though the town-land name may prove confusing to those of you more familiar with the Knocks stone circles or row - located in an identically named area about 6km southwest, on the other side of Rossmore.

On the left-hand side as you enter the field gate is a well marked ring fort, filled and outlined with mature hawthorn, its southern arc incorporated in the field/road boundary. A slab in the interior partially covers the opening to what the Archaeological Inventory classifies as a possible souterrain, exposed after a ground collapse in 1985 and a southward-heading tunnel is clearly visible inside.(1)

Less than 10m west of the ring fort perimeter is one of the very occasional multiple groupings of Cork/Kerry boulder-burials, missed in this instance by O'Nuallain in his 1978 survey but described in the Inventory as 'Three boulder-burials set in form of triangle c. 1.5m apart.'(2)

It's curious how ordered the stone placement is in these cases; four boulders forming a square with a NE-SW axis at Breeny More, three boulders in a N-S line at Mill Little, two boulders forming a rough, yet defined, E-W avenue to a third stone here and a similar triangular arrangement punctuated by a fourth boulder at Derrymihan West.(3) There is further documentary evidence of a line of three at Lackadotia in North Cork.(4) Of course, any order may have been for its own sake rather than a product of ritual variation or necessity.

Incidentally, if you choose to see boulder-burials as mushroom-like, or if that was any part of the original intention then the southwestern capstone here was an excellent choice - it looks like someone already took a nibble out of the top of it. Permission to visit this site can be obtained from the farmhouse to the south, on the right-hand side of the main road.

(1) Archaeological Inventory of Cork Vol. 1, 1992; No.2344; 250.
(2) ibid.; No.124; 32.
(3) O'Nuallain, PRIA 78 C, 1978; No.18; 90, 105.
(4) ibid.; No.1; 83

Caherkirky (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

This mini-complex is set in a gradually-sloping, west-facing field with what would have been a long view, blocked now by the adjacent fence, towards the full Carrigfadda range. It comprises two boulder burials, the smaller of which is closely attended by a massive, horned monolith; 2.7m high and 1.9m wide. The larger, western boulder, tightly embraced by hawthorn, rests on three supports. The Inventory refers to one visible support under the eastern cap, but this is now concealed by overgrowth from the fence.

The line of this wall, running tangentially between the two monuments, also incorporates an interlink of two quartz blocks. These need not necessarily be original features, but the presence of similar stones at several Argideen river sites - Letter, Templebryan, Carrigagrenane N, Lettergorman S and both Maulatanvally groups - does offer strong support to the proposal.

It's also tempting, though highly speculative, to zoomorphise the suggestively-shaped pillar using later, local, bull-reference place-names as evidence. Certainly, the two extreme peaks of the Carrigfadda range, to the southwest, present an uncannily similar, horn-like appearance to the top of the roughly aligned stone.

Permission to visit this remarkable site can be obtained from the new house on the side of the road, at the north side of the field.

Archaeological Inventory of Cork, 1992; No.105, 30; No.260, 47.

Knockawaddra E (Stone Row / Alignment)

Nothing relevant to megalithia, but I was up past here today and my son shouted; "Look at the rabbits Daddy!" A pale brown patch in the hedge behind the stones had risen and separated into three wild deer. The rare warm day and the calm must have invited them out of the forest. Fauna, don't ya love it?

Permission to visit both Knockawaddra rows should be obtained at the farmhouse at the beginning of the access-track, on the by-road to the east. Very nice people and interested in the monuments on their land.

Knocks S (Stone Circle)

Well worth a visit, despite its rather gap-tooth appearance and easily accessible at the end of a farm track just north of the Argideen. Permission to nip in can be obtained from the farmhouse on the rise south of the river, on the first left hand turn. They will probably stress the importance of not leaving fences disconnected so obviously there have been some disasters in the past. Preaching to the converted, I know.
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