Megalithic rock-scribing found near Croagh Patrick
A rare sample of megalithic engraving or “rock-scribing” has been found on an ancient pilgrimage route to Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo.
The prehistoric ornamentation resembles that found in Lough Crew, Co Meath, and is one of just of two rock art samples of its type to be identified west of the Shannon, according to archaeologist Michael Gibbons.
The panel had been concealed behind the outcropping at the Boheh townland known as St Patrick’s chair, which has some 250 petroglyphs or carvings on its surface. The carvings are believed to have been inspired by the “rolling sun” phenomenon, where the setting sun appears to glide down the flank of Croagh Patrick during the months of April and August.
Down an old muddy right of way is this 3 metre tall stone. For a couple of reasons this was my favourite site of the day. By the time I got to it, I was drenched and freezing, but forgot completely about that so taken in was I by the place.
I disturbed 3 donkeys, or Connemara ponies, on my way up to the place. I was the last thing they were expecting that day, given the dreadful weather, but on I marched regardless, though they stopped fretting when I gave them a wide berth.
And then to the stone, with its own fógra, perched on a small hillock or drumlin 3 metres above you as you first catch sight of it. The stone leans to the north, but is imposing, a crooked finger pointing accusingly at whatever.
There are many signs of habitation structures around this place, the most intriguing being the circular, beehive hut like building just 20 metres west of the stone. Other earthworks around the place confirm that this is an important site. If only the weather had been a bit better and I had had a bit more time...
Marked as a mound on the OS map, it's hard to tell what this is. It struck me as either a. a ruined habitation site, maybe a hut site or something later, maybe iron age, or b. a ruined megalithic tomb. 400 metres south-west of here is an ogham stone, with the rath I placed on here 200 metres to the north.
200 hundred metres from Cartron mound, I couldn't get close to this due to vicious barbed wire and livestock. It looks a superb example of its type but what is really intriguing are the large stones on its top. These resemble the wreck of a tomb from a distance and I left here mildly annoyed that I couldn't investigate any closer.
When I first saw this stone from the road I thought: what a load of crap. It's profile from above was square and it seemed to be little more than a scratching post. Down into the dip and closer it revealed itself to be quite a gem. From whichever way you look at it, you could be looking at a different stone each time. It's about 2 metres high and wedge-shaped along its width. It reminded me of a piece of abstract art I may or may not have seen or imagined, maybe an early Picasso.
Ruined, roadside court tomb. I was surprised that nobody from TMA had been here before. There is still quite a bit of this tomb extant, with even a roofstone over the back end of the gallery. However, it's in a cattle field and is unprotected. Some cairn material also remains and there are some stones of the court visible. That said, this is a wreck of a place, of interest only to those of us who'd travel a couple of hundred miles to say we'd been there.