|Cong is a small, historic town sited between the loughs Mask and Corrib, large bodies of water which restrict the approach to the mountains of Connemara from the east. Its principle claim to fame is the ruined 12th Century abbey, the building besieged by schoolboys as we arrive from Galway, thoughts of their heritage no doubt the last thing upon the minds of the little shites.... The other attraction is a ghastly, mock-medieval structure known as Ashford Castle. Hmm. Nothing here to satiate the megalithically minded then?
Appearances, of course, can be deceptive, for just a mile(ish) to the north-east sits as varied a four stone circle complex as you could wish for. Needless to say, without a map, or road sign of any description, we struggle to find the rings at first. But 'endure and perservere' has always been an unofficial Gladman motto.... and eventually the first of the quartet - the northern most, and coincidentally finest - comes into view. It is worth finding, being a variant recumbent circle, the recumbent and odd little flankers set on the northern arc of a ring enclosing the remains of a kerbed cairn. The setting is exquisite, too, the stones having been erected upon what would appear to be an artificial platform, overlooking a pasture from beneath a copse of trees. This, then, is the 'cared for' site for the occasional visitor.
The second site lies beyond the stone wall to the south. A large, embanked stone circle - the largest ring of the group - it is dishevelled, semi-derelict and overgrown, but nevertheless still possesses several large orthostats in situ. The visitor retains a perception of having a 'stolen moment' here; such experiences are, of course, often all the more sweeter and memorable because of their illegitimacy, whether actual or supposed. It is an evocative site, indeed.
The third stone circle, to the north east, is a ruinous cairn-circle of four surviving uprights. It is also engulfed by vegetation but well worth the calf graze I suffer climbing the dilapidated dry stone wall to get to it. Show sites have their place, but arguably these half-forgotten, hidden monuments offer more reward to the inquisitive.
The final circle of the group stands within the private grounds of Deanery Place, shrouded by yet more foliage. But unfortunately time has run out. Burl cites this as being a 'plain elipse' with a 'score of light-grey stones...'
Back in the car it's time to head into yonder mountains, well happy with a visit to perhaps the most neglected stone circle complex on the western coast?
Posted by GLADMAN
20th March 2010ce
Edited 20th March 2010ce