The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Tolven Holed Stone — Miscellaneous

...I propose to give a few hitherto unpublished particulars [of the Tolven stone]. It stands at the back of a small farmhouse in Tolven (or Tolvan) Cross, about half a mile from Gweek, on the road from Helston to Truro, and just at the intersection of that road, with a less important one connecting Constantine and Wendron.

The farmhouse was built in 1847 by a John Moyle, whose descendants still occupy it. At the time the house was built the surrounding countryside was wild moorland, overgrown with furze and bracken, and this was cleared by Moyle to make the present Tolven Cross Farm. The two adjoining farms - Upper Tolven and Lower Tolven - were already in existence at the time Moyle commenced to reclaim his little corner of moorland.

When he built the house the Tolven Stone was lying flat upon the moor at the intersection of the roads, and a few feet only from the back wall of the house, and the old man was struck with the idea that by raising it up on one of his edges he would be spared the necessity of building some three yards of the wall separating a little patch of garden from the farmyard, or rather, a pathway from the farmyard to his back-door. This he did, and the stone stands today in the place where the old man put it.

John Moyle died thirty years ago, but his daughter-in-law, who lived in the same house with the old man for some years previous to his death, is still living there with her daughter and grandson, the latter farming the land attached to the house.
One can't help thinking that the weirdness of the stone is the reason people walking on the ancient roads crossed at that spot (because it was an interesting and obvious landmark). But I'm not sure Mr Beesley would go for this theory. His theory is that the holed Men-An-Tol and this stone are holed because they're cross bases. That's a big stone to pick for a cross base though, you have to admit. He says I therefore leave my case in the hands of my readers, who, if they cannot accept my solution of the mystery, will, I feel sure, be tolerant.

From 'What is the Men-an-tol?' by George J Beesley, in The Antiquary 8 (April 1912)

Tolven Holed Stone — Folklore

I have shown (in the Antiquary for April, 1912) why the Tolven Stone was set up on edge, and although this was done as recently as the middle of the nineteenth century, it had long ago acquired a reputation as a "crick-stone."

Four years ago I had a chat with the daughter-in-law of the man who built the house at the back of which the stone stands, and who raised it to its present position. She told me that, quite recently, children had been passed through the hole in order to strengthen their backs, and added, "our old dog (a collie) ought to be strong enough in the back, for he's backwards and forwards through it forty times a day."
From Correspondence in 'The Antiquary' v10 (April 1914), our correspondent being George J Beesley. The reputation had to have been developed after it was put up, because otherwise, how would you shove infants through it? Or is he conceding that it already had the reputation (suggesting it had already been standing at some point)?

Tolven Holed Stone — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Tolven Holed Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Lanyon Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Lanyon Quoit</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Treryn Dinas (Cliff Fort) — Images

<b>Treryn Dinas</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Castlefarm (Rath) — Folklore

There is an old lios in the townland of Castlefarm, the next village to Clooneen. It was generally known that the owner of the land on which the lios was, would never remain too late at work and that he would not go out to work early in the morning. His neighbours asked him what was the reason of this and he told them that one morning he went out at day-break and began to plough near the lios, and a friend of his who had been dead for years told him to cease working at such early hours. He did as he had been advised, went back to bed for a few hours and when he returned he found that half the field had been ploughed in his absence. He then yoked in his horses, began to plough and did an ordinary day's work. A few weeks later his cow strayed from him one evening and he could not find her.
It was near midnight when he went to the lios in search of her and he had a lantern in his hand because the night was very dark. As he came near the lios he heard the nicest music he ever heard played. After a while it changed into a kind of "caoining".
He became very much afraid of this strange sound and he left the field and returned home and told his wife and family. Very soon after he became ill and he lived only six weeks.
Ever since people take care that they do not enter this field at a late hour.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.

St Columkille's Stones (Cup Marked Stone) — Folklore

In Gartan Co Donegal there is a huge stone which is kept in remembrance of St Colmcille. Long ago some Protestants were removing this stone and trying to hide it on the Catholics. When they had it some distance away a plague of black rats surrounded them so they thought they would leave the stone back again and when they did so the rats disappeared. The Protestants never interfered with the stone again.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.

Ho Stone, Balcunnin (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

Another story which I'm hoping applies to this stone. You get a lot packed in - fairies, Finn McCool, special tree species and petrification.
In a field at Balcunnin two miles from Skerries, there is a tall stone shaped somewhat like a man. It is said that a fairy queen was going to Fionn Mac Cumhail when a man leapt out of a hedge and tried to seize her. Like magic a hazel rod appeared in her hand and she turned her man into a rock.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.

Clogher (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There is a great stone in Clogher till the present day and there was a giant buried under it. One day a man from Eglish was over there and he lifted one of the stones. He looked down and saw a bottle. When he was about to lift the second stone a voice called to him to get away from that grave. He left that moment and for a long time he never was seen about Clogher. About seven years after that he was after sheep about the same place. When he came near the grave he saw a man sitting on the stone which lay over it. He heard him singing a song about if any man would lift that stone that he would be put to death before the end of that week. From that day to this no one went near these few stones. It is to be found on the farm of Kathleen Kelly of Clogher.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie. Perhaps this is the stone at Clogher (or perhaps there's another).

Rocking Stone Hill (Golcar) — Miscellaneous

The first druidical remain which I shall mention, is called the Rocking-Stone, and two different views thereof are exhibited at No. 1 and 2 of the etched plate attending these remarks.

It is situated so as to be a boundary mark between the two town-ships, Golcar and Slaighthwait in the parish of Huddresfield, on what is called Golcar-Hill, and gives the name of Hole-Stone Moor to the adjoining grounds.

The size of it is about ten feet and half long, nine feet four or five inches broad, and five feet three inches thick. It rests on so small a center, that at one particular point, a man may cause it to rock, though it has been damaged a little in this respect by some masons, who endeavoured to discover the principle on which so large a weight was made to move.
From 'Druidical Remains in or near the Parish of Halifax in Yorkshire, discovered and explained by the Rev. John Watson, MAFSA and Rector of Stockport in Cheshire', read at the Society of Antiquaries, Nov. 21, 1771. (Archaeologia v.2).

The grid reference is where the stone is marked on the 1880 map.

Rocking Stone Hill (Golcar) — Images

<b>Rocking Stone Hill (Golcar)</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Ravenstone Rocks (Rocking Stone) — Folklore

Hmm imagine being glowered over by those rocks on the hill above. And they can look after themselves (to a point):
On the edge of Ravenstone precipice, in Greenfield, there formerly stood a large rocking stone (by the rocking of which the Druids tried their criminals for minor offences), but this stone was ruthlessly destroyed by the miners engaged in excavating the Standedge canal tunnel. These worse than Celtic barbarians assembled on this spot, and blew this time-honoured memorial into countless fragments, one of which, however, struck one of the men and killed him on the spot.
From Saddleworth Sketches by Joseph Bradbury, 1871.

Ravenstone Rocks (Rocking Stone) — Images

<b>Ravenstone Rocks</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Pots and Pans Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

There are more curious stones a mere 500 metres away at Alderman's rocks, and the old maps have the "Fairy Hole" at SE01520469 - surely what this must refer to?
On the hill of Alderman, but nearer to Greenfield than is Pots and Pans, is a long fissure in the earth, about 14 yards in length, each end of which terminates in a cavernous hole in the rock. Tradition says that into one of these holes
A fox and dog, once on a Whitsun morn,
Entered in chase, but never to return
.
From Saddleworth Sketches by Joseph Bradbury, 1871.

Besides the basins already mentioned, there is a long uneven hole on Pots and Pans rock, which Borlase supposes was made to receive the bodies of diseased persons, in order that the god of the rock might heal them.

In confirmation of this opinion, I have often heard it said that the water of the basins on Pots and Pans rock "will cure sore eyes," which superstition has in all probability been transmitted to us from the Druidical period.

Butterworth mentions a stone called Pancake, and on which, he says, was the "long uneven hole" just mentioned, but he has evidently confounded the two stones. At the time the canal locks were being made, Pots and Pans narrowly escaped destruction, and Pancake was destroyed, together with the Giant's Stone - so called from having the impress of a gigantic hand upon it,

- and a "rock idol" (?), thus described by Butterworth and others who had seen it:- "A little west(?) of Pancake (Pots and Pans he means) is a stone about twenty feet in height, but much narrower at the top (than bottom (?), from whence proceed irregular flutings down one side of about two feet in length, by some supposed to be the effect of time, and by others the workmanship of art.
In all probability if you wash your eyes in the water you may then require the use of the long uneven hole. From Saddleworth Sketches by Joseph Bradbury, 1871.

Kit's Coty (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Folklore

From [a mansion called The Friars] we bent our way towards the hills, over the spot where the Saxons, under their first landing, were routed by the British king Vortimier, after a long and bloody battle, in which Horsa, and Catigern, Vortimer's brother, fighting hand to hand, slew each other.

Tradition says, that Horsa was buried at a place near Chatham, now called Horsted from that circumstance, and that Catigern was interred where he fell. The spot, according to the general opinion, is marked by a monument named Kit's Coty House, composed of four immense stones, which many, however, suppose to have been a druidical altar.

[...] As my reader may possibly object to the word Coity, I beg to remind him that this cromlech is variously designated by different writers: Camden calls it Keith Coty House; Lambarde and Philipott, Citscotehouse; and Kilburne, Kits Cothouse.

The height of the pile is between nine and ten feet, and the upper or largest stone weighs about ten tons and a haf; but, as it is most accurately represented in the print [...] and from its vicinity to the road is too well known to require a minute description, I shall only notice the art shown in the placing of the stones, which, I believe, is not generally observed.

The two blocks which form the sides, stand about six feet apart, and lean a little towards each other, so that they could only fall inwards; but they are secured from doing so by the third set transversely between them; and the three are bound firmly together by the fourth and largest, which is placed on their tops as a roof.

At a short distance below Kit's Coty House, towards the south-west, there are several large stones, which lie in such a confused heap that their number cannot be correctly ascertained; we judged it to be about twenty: and on the hill side, to the north-east by east of Kit's Coty House, there are several more lying near to each other; both these collections seem to have formed circles resembling, on a small scale, that of Stonehenge, and like Kit's Coty House, were reared by the Britons either for a sacrificial altar, or a monumental trophy. Besides those already mentioned there are several large stones scattered about the fields in this neighbourhood, some of which have names given to them.
From A brief historical and descriptive account of Maidstone and its environs by Lampreys, 1834. I like his easy style of writing. Though I'm not quite sure why he thinks I might take offence at Coity.. maybe because it sounds like saying if a house is made of coits it must be coity? which is a bit too silly and slangy.

Kit's Coty (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Kit's Coty</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Rathdonnell — Folklore

This was told to me by Mick Carbry, Socker. In Rathdonell house there was a man who lived there, his name was Staffard. There was a big fort around the house. Staffard had a horse which he liked very much. Staffard died, and the minute he did, the horse came to the door step and died.
The people put the 'trace' of the horse on Staffard's tombstone. He is buried in Douglas. There was a fort round this house, and the Danes planted a lot of trees around the fort. There was a fight and the trees hid and saved the Danes from being shot. There was supposed to be a ghost seen in Rathdonell house ever since.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.

Garrans Lodge (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There is a large stone in a field on the road to Galway from Oranmore, and beside Gurrane Lodge. Its position and size would lead one to believe that it was once used as a ceremonial stone of some kind.
The following story is told concerning this stone:-
There was once a great giant living in Oran Castle (see the story of the History of Oran Castle in this book). At one time another giant came to visit him. They decided that they would try to find out who was the stronger of the two. The local giant tore a huge rock up out of the ground. This rock is said to have been about fourteen feet long and ten feet broad. He threw the stone and in its flight it broke into two pieces. One piece (the rock in question) fell into a field near Gurrane Lodge on the Galway road. The second piece travelled so far that it was never traced.
From the 1930s Schools Collection, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Dunwiley (Rath) — Folklore

Long ago there was a stone wall round Dunwiley fort. One time a man named Thomas Gallagher took the field in which the fort was situated for grazing. He sent his men to toss the wall. When the men put the stones on the carts the horses fell dead. It is said that this happened because the ground was "gentle."
Shortly after this Thomas himself died.
From the 1930s Schools Collection, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Similar retellings here, here and here, and a different story about the fort is here..
There is a fort outside Stranorlar called Dunwiley Fort. Two men went to this fort to hunt one night about 12 o clock. They had two hounds with them. As they approached the top of the fort they noticed the hounds were afraid and looking round they saw a little woman who wore a red cloak. The men were afraid and ran away. After this one of the men took ill.

Oghermong (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There is a stone in Ohermong called the Glánn Bawn or white stone. It is about five feet overground and buried in the earth to some depth. It is about six feet in circumference. An old lady who died about 30 years ago aged 95 at that time and a native of Ballinkelligs told my father that there lived in Ballinskelligs a woman who had as a custom to dig as many potatoes on Sundays in the harvest time as she would require for the week. She was digging one Sunday about dusk when suddenly she was taken away and found herself underground at the Glánn Bawn in Ohermong. She was very downhearted at being swept away and she was told by one of the underground people who took pity on her not to eat any of their food and that they would have to let her go again. She refused the food and after three days she was taken home again. She took some bread with her which she put on the fence near her home and any thing living would not eat it and it melted on the fence. She used to say afterwards "do bí caint briágh ann"[?] She did not dig any more potatoes on Sundays. This has happened about one hundred and fifty years ago and the old lady who told the story always believed that there is an under-ground house at the "Glánn Bawn" in Ohermong.
From the 1930s Schools Collection now being transcribed at duchas.ie. I regret I can't transcribe the Irish properly so feel free to correct me (and tell me what it means :)

Balriggan (Rath) — Folklore

There was an old man named Johnny McKeown, who lived in a little house by the roadside close to Rice's Fort. He used to say that one night he was sitting by the fire and he heard a noise on the road, so he went and opened the door and looked out. It was a bright moonlight night, and he saw a regiment of soldiers coming down the road towards him. They were very tired-looking and foot-sore, and "drabbed," and they came right into his yard, marching two and two, several hundreds of them. They went into the field behind and into Rice's Fort. Of course it was the "gentry" coming back from some fight between themselves - [T. Curtis].

Note - Rice's Fort is said to contain a cave, or subterranean chamber, with a passage ending in the little marsh between it and Fort Hill. There is said to be a similar passage from the fort at Fort Hill to the marsh. The two forts are connected by a "fairy pass;" and one night, when Curtis and another man were standing beside this path, they heard a sound like many horses galloping past quite close to them.
From 'Traditions and Superstitions collected at Kilcurry, County Louth, Ireland' by Bryan J Jones and commented on by W B Yeats, in Folklore v10, no.1 (March 1899), pp. 119-123. It has a little sketch map, so I know I've got the right fort this time...

Cloonfane (Souterrain) — Folklore

About three miles from Charlestown on the road to Carracastle there is a fort from which an underground passage leads to the neighbouring village. It is believed that the Danes, when invading the nearby districts, built the cave in order that they might have some place to live in and keep their booty in safety. The entrance to the cave is very narrow admitting only one person to enter at a time. This plan was followed to save the occupants from attacks made by the Irish.

One day, however, some people thought of a plan to rid themselves of their enemies. Lighting several sheaves of straw and putting them at one end, they rushed to the other side of the cave and waited. The smoke from the straw went through the rooms and almost suffocated the Danes who thought it better to go out by the other side and stay outside for some time.

Being able to move very quickly, the Irish arrived at the other end before the Danes who could come out only one at a time. One by one they fell under the swords of the Irishmen. But the gold which they had taken was never found as it was hidden in some place where it could not be seen.
From the Schools Collection, currently being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Clogher Head (Hillfort) — Folklore

I'd imagine the very old cave in the story is the drystone-built souterrain that's in a rocky outcrop on the west side of the hill (it's marked as a cave on some old maps).
On the Hill of Clogherhead there stands a very old cave and it is said that priests lived in it in the Penal Days. The priests in this cave had a terrier dog. One day the solders were around the cave and the priests were saying Mass at the time. The dog started to bark. The soldiers heard it and came in and killed the priests. There are two stones inside this cave and every seven years the stones move a little bit closer together.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, currently being transcribed at duchas.ie. Are the stones the soldiers, or the priests? or maybe either? And why are they moving closer together? Too many questions.

Ballymorris (Rath) — Folklore

After all the stuff about fairies this seems rather mundane, it's more like historical stories (albeit pretty muddled in its mix of pagan Irish tribes, Danish invaders and Christian institutions). The piece is still entitled 'fairy forts' though, so I guess the fairies turned up as tenants in the end.
In a field owned by Mr James Lonergan lie two large forts. They are situated by the side of the river Aherlow and are in the townland of Ballymorris.
It is said that they were built by the old Irish and in one of them a great chief lived. All that now remains of them is a mound of clay with a few whitethorn bushes growing round in a ring around it but once it was a huge fort.
Inside was the great house in which the chief lived: outside this was a great wall of clay and outside was a deep trench with the water from the river flowing into it.
When the Danes came to Ireland they plundered the fort, killed the chief and put the Irish tribe out and went in themselves.
It is said that they plundered St Pecaun's church andtook some of the Sacred Vessels away and hid them in the fort. By now they were very strongly entrenched and they plundered every church school and monastery in the surrounding district.
The Irish at this time were fighting amongst themselves but after a while they united and drove the invader out of the fort and out of the district also. They restored the stolen treasures to the churches, schools and monasteries.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Ballybuggy (Bullaun Stone) — Folklore

There are so many Irish sites which seem undocumented on the internet, it makes me wonder how many are out there hiding and could be found. But this one has a photo on the Megalithic Monuments of Ireland website, and it looks superb.
Harristown is a mile south of Rathdowney and there is a stone there with the marks of St Bridgid's knees and head on it. I was told that long ago when she was passing she knelt on the stone to pray and the marks of her knees and head remained on it.
Anyone with a headache will be cured if he kneels on this stone.
This is from the Schools Collection from the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie. The stone is outside the graveyard (which is actually a circular fort) and according to the record on the Historic Environment map, there should be a holy thorn (also Bridgid / Bridget's as well), which has or had coins hammered into its bark.

Shanbogh (Bullaun Stone) — Folklore

There is a flat stone on the side of the road in Shanbough (Sean-Both) which is known as the blessed stone. Shanbough is in this parish about a couple of miles from New Ross on the road to Mullinavat.

Long ago there was a giant, who was a saint, leaping from Tory Hill to Brandon. When the was passing over the stone he fell to the ground. One of his feet rested on the stone. Being so heavy, his foot-print remained on the stone and is still to be seen. There is always water in the hollow of the stone. People bathe sores or cuts in the water and are cured.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, currently being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Blackhill Wood (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

I've been reading folklore for many standing stones which I can't track down on the maps. Sometimes they are marked, but only on one sort of map. So sometimes when there's no map trace at all, I wonder whether they might actually still exist in reality anyway. This is one of those times. The location seems quite definite, and it may well have gone unnoticed by a cartographer in its wood.
In a hill called Blackhill which is about a mile in a North Westerly direction from Abbeyleix there lies a famous old stone which a druid and his people used to worship at before the time of Saint Patrick. The stone itself is in a wood which covers all the hill and is now standing upright in the midst of a bunch of thorns on the top of the hill. It is now only about four feet above the ground and is very hard to find.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Giant's Finger Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

I've scoured the maps so hard to find the location of this story, and I think it could be right next to this stone. That is, there's a lough with no water coming in or out, and on the historic 6" map a "Rock" is marked next to the lough. Please let me have it, I mean it's not like you get a 50 ft whistling eel in a story every day, and surely with the Danes involved there must be some ancient connection. There's a hill called Cashelbane close to the west, but we need a rock and a lough for the eel. I'm confused and need to visit.
The townland of Croagh lies half way between Calhame school and Binbawn Crossroads. In this district there is an ancient spot called Castlebawn where the Danes are supposed to have castles long ago. There they lived for many a year. On the Castlebawn a large grey stone whose circumference is about one hundred ft and whose height is about forty ft. This stone is said to mark the spot called the Golden Well where the Danes on their retreat from Croagh were supposed to hide their gold. One of the Danes was supposed to lift this large stone in his mighty hand and put it on top of the gold. The track of his five fingers are plain to see in it ever since. After the retreat of the Danes the old people who lived in those ages often gathered to the Castlebawn and tried to remove the stone to procure the hidden treasure.
When they would set to work with picks spades and shovels there would come out of the blind lough near by a whistling eel said to be fifty feet long. This monster would perch itself on top of the stone and lash its tail in every direction. Its whistles at the same time could be heard for miles around. The men would get so frightened at the whistling eel that they would run for home.
This whistling used to continue evening after evening for a long time. Then the men decided never to go near the stone.
Eventually the whistling eel disappeared but there the stone remains. It has ever since been called the Stone of the Hidden Treasure.

Gorteen (Rath) — Folklore

Forts are very common in my district. Some of the forts are called Liss, but they are mostly called forts. The forts in my district are in a line one after another. The fences that are around them are made of earth and stones. There is a fort about three miles from my district in which there is an opening in to an underground tunnel. The place where the fort is is called [?]. The end of the tunnel is another fort about a mile from it. The place is called Gurteen.
About two hundred years ago a man went through the tunnel. It is believed that there are beautiful houses and roads in the tunnel. No one ever went down there since because the man died a few days after. It is believed by the old people that the fairies are living in them. Some others believe that they are the fallen angels. When God cast them out of Heaven the Archangel Michael said "Let them be as they are" and they stayed in the forts. Others believe that they are the Tuatha De Danans.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Tawnatruffaun (Portal Tomb) — Folklore

The Griddle is the name of a townland in the southern part of the parish of Easkey. In this townland is a famous cromlech called the Griddle stone. The Griddle stone is a great big flat stone resting on three smaller stones. The old people say that this stone marks the burial place of a giant long ago.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s.

Slieve Anierin (Rocking Stone) — Folklore

Once upon a time it is said that two giants had a quarrel. One of them was on the Arigna mountain, and the other was on Slieve-an-Iern. They began to throw stones at each other, and the giant that was on Arigna Mountain threw a stone to Slieve an Iern. This stone is supposed to be fifty tons weight and the prints of this giant's fingers are still on this huge stone.
It is called Prevago Stone and one man can shake it at his ease but two hundred men would not lift it.
On the last Sunday of July, Garland Sunday, it is the custom of young people to go to the mountain to pick bilberries and often four youths go up and dance an Irish Reel on the Stone. It is said also that the Arigna Giant killed the other giant with this stone and that he is buried under it.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s. You can see a big rock on the aerial photo on the Historic Environment Viewer. I hope that's the rocking stone. I hope it still rocks.

Turoe Stone — Miscellaneous

There is a local tradition that this stone once occupied a site other than that on which it now stands. It was said that up to about eighty years ago it stood at a rath near by known as the rath Feerwore. Some years ago Patrick Lyons who had been employed by the late Mr Dolphin of Turoe for 40 years a herd pointed out the exact spot was about 10 yards to the west of the rath called Feerwore where the stone once stood. Excavations were made there and some animal remains together with a cist were found. The contents of the cist are supposed to have been human remains indicating cremation and the animal remains a funeral feast.
This is from the Schools Collection of the 1930s. The excavations are reported in the The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, v 14 (1944).

Does anyone know what's happened with the stone? Did it go to the museum? Did it come back again? Is it still in that bizarre shed? The poor thing deserves a bit of respect.

Kilcrimple (Wedge Tomb) — Folklore

Not far from Ballyturn there is what the people of the place call a Dolmen - It consists of two large oblong stones standing on their sides and another flat stone on top, forming a kind of bed. It is supposed to be the grave of an Irish chieftain of long ago, but it is locally known as "leaba Diarmuda agus Grainne." When flying from Finn Mac Coole, it is said that Diarmuid and Grainne rested here.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Ballynakill (Bullaun Stone) — Folklore

Perhaps I've got the wrong place, but Liss is very close and this certainly sounds like a ballaun, of which one is at these coordinates. The story is entitled "A Peculiar Stone".
There is a square stone about eight inches long and eight inches wide in this locality. It is situated in a square field in the townland of Liss.
In the centre of the stone there is a hole which is always filled with water. It is supposed Saint Patrick knelt on it and left the print of his knee on it.
It is supposed that if you washed your hands with the water which is in the print you would never get warts.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Carrickbreaga (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

I found a picture of this stone in a newsletter of the South East Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. It looks nice. And there's a story to go with it:
There is a remarkable upright stone in the townland of Knockroe in the parish of Ballinakill.
It stands about eight feet over the ground and is about four feet wide by one and a half in thickness.
The local belief is that a famous giant threw it from Knockash hill a distance of about three miles. They say only for his foot slipped when he was throwing it he would lodge it on the Ben Hill about two mile further on to the south.
It is supposed that when he slipped he knocked a piece out of the mountain and the gap is there ever since.
This is from the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at duchas.ie.

The Grey Stone, Cornashesk (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

This huge boulder, shaped like a chair, is the property of Mrs. McMonagle of Corrasheisk, Killygordon. A giant, long since dead, is supposed to have used it as a seat long ago. As an explanation of how the stone got there it is said that two giants over in Lismulladuff Glen - about three miles away- were testing their strength to see which could throw the stone the greater distance. The giant who won the test threw his stone on top of Cornasheisk Mt. and decided henceforth he would live there.
A little distance below the stone a huge tombstone marks the spot where the giant lies buried. The tombstone is cut out in the shape of the giants's own body. Writing can be traced on the upper surface of the stone but it is so blurred that it is impossible to decipher it. Local tradition has it that a great treasure lies buried in this grave.
The hill's also called Ballyarrell Mountain and the stone is on a steep south-facing slope. The story is from the Schools Collection of the 1930s which is currently being transcribed at duchas.ie.

Ballyargus (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

The information on the Historic Environment Viewer says this stone is 1.2m high × 0.7m wide × 0.6m thick, with a shallow depression on top. There's a quartz stone nearby too, 0.6m high × c. 0.7m × 0.6m. And "according to local tradition the standing stone was used as a Mass Rock". There's a story from the Schools Collection of the 1930s transcribed at duchas.ie:
It is a large stone standing upright with a large white stone to the Moville side.
One side of the stone has mouldered away with the storm.
The owner of the field was asked to remove the stone but he objected. He said his mother told him not to remove it for any quantity of gold or silver. The stone has been there for thousands of years and the story has been handed down from sire to son. It has been called from the beginning of time "the standing stone" or "the fairy grove."
It is about four feet high and two feet broad.

It is said that some of the older people who are not alive nowadays, saw a fairy appear, and this belief still holds good to the ones who owns the fields with the stone, which it contains, and they won't remove it.

Ballybrack (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

I got this story from Michael Gillespie. He lives in Ballymacarter. He told me that his uncle told him about a giant who lived in Magilligan. He was a strong man. He was twelve foot high. He and another man were quarrying stones. This giant could lift a stone over a ton in weight. They came on a stone which was long and flat. They found some treasure under the stone. Away they went and got drunk. They began to fight about which of them could lift the stone. The giant said he would throw it to the other side of the water. He did so and it is there in Ballybrack since.
From the Schools Collection made in the 1930s, and now being digitised at duchas.ie. There is another story about the stone here...
There is a "standing stone" in Ballybrack. People of the neighbourhood say that this stone was thrown from Magilligan by a giant before he had got his breakfast. Other people say that a great warrior is buried there and that the stone was put there to mark the grave.
and here...
Stands upright out of the ground by the roadside at Ballybrack, Moville. About 4 1/2 feet high and 4 yards from the roadside. There are marks on it, some people say it is ancient writing.
Finn McCool is said to have thrown it from the other side of Lough. Another version or legend says it marks the grave of a Dane, for Danes occupied L. Foyle in their day.
It is also said that two giants were fighting, one on either side of L. Foyle, and that this stone was thrown from the Derry side and struck the Giant in the head and crushed him into the ground here.

Ho Stone, Balcunnin (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There is a very large stone called the "Ho or Howe Stone" in a field near Balcunnin cross roads. One going along the main road from Lusk to Skerries can view the "Ho stone" in the field on the right hand side of the road. It is only a distance of twenty yards from the Balcunnin Cross Roads. It is about five feet in height and must weigh about 3 or 4 tons in weight. There is a smaller stone near it but whether this was broken from the original stone would be difficult to state. The "Ho stone" resembles Cromlech stones which are to be seen in many parts of Ireland but there is no visible inscription on it.

Some say that it was part of Baldungan Castle that was destroyed in the rebellion of war but this would belie the suggestion that castle was destroyed by Cromwell from the sea and it is situated on the same road as Cromwell's Bush. If Cromwell destroyed Baldungan Castle from Loughshinny by cannon fire it is very unlikely that a mass of stone weighing some tons could be blown for such a distance as it lies almost a half mile from the site of the castle.

Local tradition states that it covers the entrance to a cave or a passage which leads to Baldungan Castle but no effort has ever been made to prove this assertion. The defenders of the Castle are supposed to have retreated into this passage with their valuables and when the Castle was levelled the passage is supposed to have caved in on them. There seems to be no entrance from Baldungan Castle at present to this supposed passage but the entrance may have been choked by falling debris which still remains concealing the entrance.
No no don't overthink the folklore please, you're trying to hard to make it make sense. It's not necessary. A story in the 1930s Schools Collection which is now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Giant's Finger Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

The note on the Historic Environment Viewer map claims there's no trace of this stone now. But it's a forested boggy area... can we hope it's just slipped out of view?
Long ago when Fionn Mc Cool and his companions were hunting the wild deer in Connacht they came to a little house which was built under the shadow of a high cliff. Being tired and hungry they thought they would get something to eat in it. Upon knocking at the door it was opened by an old woman who inquired what they wanted. Upon learning that they were hungry and thirsty she invited them inside and set a fine meal before them. When they had eaten and drunk their fill they returned out again. Great was their surprise to find another group of warriors sitting on the green outside the house. Fionn recognised their leader as his old enemy Goll Mac Morna. At this time there was a truce between them. Both companies saluted one another cordially enough. After they had conversed a while they began some games. Everything went on well for a while.

Now it happened there was a huge stone near by and this stone was supposed to cover the entrance to a fairy dwelling. Goll challenged Fionn to lift the stone from the entrance. Fionn was loth to do so for as we knew he was tired of the chase before hand. This only caused Goll and his companions to laugh and they taunted Fionn saying that he was not able to perform this feat. This enraged Fionn who started up and getting a good hold of the stone tried to enforce it out of its place. He found to his sorrow he was unable to do so. This made Goll and his friends laugh and you may be sure that this did not please Fionn and his heroes.

A battle between the two parties was imminent when the old woman came out of the house and reproached them with causing her so much annoyance. When they told her of the challenge and how Fionn had failed she went into the house again. She came out in a few minutes carrying a ripe yellow apple which she handed to Fionn, telling him at the same time to eat half of it and throw the other half over his left shoulder. When he had done this she told him to lift the stone now. Going over to sit the second time he caught hold of it and with one mighty heave pulled the stone from its bed. All who witnessed this mighty feat were amazed. Then lifting it over his head he gave it a mighty cast over the sea. The stone kept on flying in the air and at last it fell on the top of a hill near the town now known as Killybegs.

It bears the tracks of Fionn's fingers even to this day and ever since it has been called Fionn's Finger Stone. It is said that when a person goes up on top of the stone he would feel as if he were sailing through the air.
From the 1930s Schools Collection, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Ballyquin (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

According to Prehistoric Waterford this is the stone known as the "High Stone".
This stone is situated about 100 yards from Picketts Cross. Tradition says that a tailor living here was ordered by a giant to make a suit of clothes for him in a certain time. When the giant came for the clothes the tailor had not them ready, and the giant was so angry that he threw this stone at the tailor and buried him under it. The marks of the giant's fingers are to be seen on the stone.
This story from Patrick Walshe in the 1930s is part of the Schools Collection that is presently being digitised at duchas.ie.

Portleen (Stone Row / Alignment) — Folklore

There are two stones known as "the standing stones" in a field about one hundred yards above the school-house.
There is a story told that one time two giants were on the top of Lough Salt hill. They thought they would try their skill and see which would throw the farther. One giant threw his stone and his stone fell into this field. The other giant threw his stone and it fell about three inches in front of the first stone.
From the Schools Collection collected in the 1930s, and now being digitised at duchas.ie.

St Columkille's Stones (Cup Marked Stone) — Folklore

St Columkille's stone is near these stepping stones, but the latter are not given billing on the archaeology.ie map, and yes perhaps they're natural. But they're part of the story and they're stoney and folklorish so I'm squeezing them in here. They're at the end of Bridge Isle point. Columba and Columkille, it's all the same by the way.
Across Gartan Lough there is a row of stones still to be seen. These are called Saint Columba's steps. One morning as Saint Columba was putting on his boots, his enemies came and he had to run away having only one boot on. It is said that he crossed here to the other side out of his enemies' reach.

He said that, after that a curse would rest on the man that laced one boot before he put on the other. Most people of this district try to avoid the curse by putting on both boots before lacing one.
I often heard my parents talk about this when I was quite young and I still remember it.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Annagh More (Rath) — Folklore

There was a man one time and he had a rye-grass field in which there was a fort. He went and picked all the stones and put them into the fort. On the next night there was a lot of roaring and crying. The man got very much afraid and the next day he took out every stone that was in the fort. On that night the people of the village was out listening to the beautiful music they (fairies) were playing. When the harvest came the man was out stooking oats. It was about dusk and the fairies came out with candles to show him light. The man got afraid and ran away, but when he got up in the morning all the oats was stooked.
The people of this district are very slow to interfere with a fort in such a way as rooting or cutting bushes.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Rathfran — Folklore

There is a fort in Knoxes field Rathfran. It is said that if you go out after twelve o'clock at night and pass that fort you will hear dogs barking and children crying. That field is called the fort field.
From the Schools Collection made in the 1930s, and now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Breastagh (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There are a lot of Stones in this village. There are some in John Langans field. Breastagh. There is one big stone in the field. It is said that it is a tomb stone over a grave.
People come there every year from far away. Some people that come there cry. That that stone marks the grave of "Gabra son of Awley" It is written on the side of the stone in Ogham. It is said that there is as much of the stone under the ground as there is over it. Because the earth is growing every year. There are other stones in that field besides that one. Some people said that the Pagans used them for altars long ago. Other people say that they are tomb stones.
Doubtless the other stones are those of the Breastagh wedge tomb. You can see the Ogham very clearly in this photo from the National Library of Ireland. Story from the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Corrower (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There are a few old stones around this place. They are standing up straight. They are long. One of the stones is in Tommy Gilmartins field. There is another stone in Currower. It is in Martin Mullen's land. There is another one in Carracrum. It is in John Crean's land.
There is writing on the one in Martin Mullen's field. Nobody around here can read it. It is a kind of writing that was in it long ago. It is called "Ogham". People say that there is music in it. It rattles when it is struck.

The stone that is in Tommy Gilmartin's field is ten feet long, two feet wide and one foot ten inches thick. I wasn't at the other two at all. There is another one in Carralavin. The old people have a name for those old stones. They call them "spílés".

You would think that these old stones come from Foxford and go down towards Sligo. People say that there were giants long ago who were building a big castle for the king. Before they landed at the place they heard the king was dead. They dropped the stones down at the spot they were at and they are standing there since.

Others say that these stones were set up as pagan gods. The pagans used to adore them.
There is another stone in Johnny Igoe's field. It is not very big. About six feet away from it there is another small one. They say that there was a giant buried there.

These old stones are not in the best land. The stone that is in Tommy Gilmartin's field is in the worst of his land. The others are in bad land too.
I'm guessing this is the stone on Tommy Gilmartin's land, as it's near an ogham stone. I love that people say the Ogham has music in it. And that a tentative connection is made between the stones and poor land (though I'd imagine that's actually because poor land is less likely to get ploughed up). Stories from the 1930s School Collection, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Toberbreanal (Sacred Well) — Folklore

I know, I know, "sacred well" and all that disputed antiquity business. But let me have this one, it comes with its own stone. I can't see the stone on the map, but surely it's still there? Imagine how much fun it would be if they were cupmarks. There's an ogham stone in the neighbouring graveyard. But from the description it can't be that.
There is a stone lying down flat in Kilgarvin. It is opposite St Brians Well. There are marks on this stone. They are supposed to be the tracks of the hands and feet of St Brian.
The stone is four feet long and two and a half feet wide. It is about fifteen yards from the nearest point of the graveyard. It is ten yards from the well.
From the Schools collection of the 1930s, currently being digitised at duchas.ie.

Carrowcrom (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

There is a big standing stone in a field owned by Martin Moran of Caralavin. There is no writing on it.
There is another stone in a field now owned by Thomas Gilmartin of Carracrum. It is sloped a little to one side. This is the stone that gave Carracrum its name.
There are two standing stones like those I have already mention in Cara. Some years ago one of them fell but the people decided to put it up again. It took thirty men to put it up.
Another stone stands in a field owned by Patrick McAndrew of Caracrum. There is no writing on any of these stones.
There is ogham writing on a stone in Carower however. Once some people started digging under this stone for gold. They were not long digging when they saw that the stone was about to fall. When they saw this they ran away.
There are some small stones in a field owned by Thomas Judge of Carrowreagh.
All those stones were supposed to be brought by giants once to build a castle for a king. As they were coming they heard that the king was dead. They then dropped the stones. This accounts for the number of stones in this district.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at duchas.ie.
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This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.

-- Alan Garner.


...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...

-- William Wordsworth.


I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:
http://wiltshirewandering.blogspot.co.uk/

and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at
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