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...