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Gorteanish Stone Circle

Small stone circle, probably 11 stones

This circle was only discovered in 1995 when the Sheep's Head Way was being developed. It's hard to say exactly how many stones it comprises - the Archaeological Inventory for Count Cork gives the number as 11 - four standing and seven fallen. Two huge portal stones, now fallen, lead the way in.  One big stone now has a holly bush growing around it which adds to the mystery.  Pits in the centre are said to be modern. The circle is assumed to be aligned NE-SW, possibly marking the mid winter solstice on the 21st December. To the east of the circle, and now covered in bracken, is another colossal but now fallen stone - maybe a marker stone as this would clearly have been seen from the sea. There are also two remains of  possible boulder burials -  one can be seen in the NW area of the circle and another may lie just outside the circle as you come in from the south. Almost directly across the bay is another similar stone circle at Dunbeacon.

Stone circles dates from the Bronze Age and are mostly found in Cork and Kerry. Their original intention is mysterious- a gathering place, a trading centre, a centre for ritual - we shall probably never know.

April 2013: the huge but fallen marker stone has been cleared of the undergrowth and is now visible.

Nearby site:

Roskerrig Burial ground

Related site

Dunbeacon Stone Circle

Gorteanish: field of Aonghus (the O Daly poet)
Sheep's Head Way South - Ahakista to Kilcrohane; clearly marked as you start the green road
V860, 396

This is a frequent destination for an amble. Getting there is half the pleasure. Pause a while at Átha Tomás and admire the beauty of the spot, dedicated to Tom Whitty who was so instrumental in getting the Sheep's Head Way up and running. Then climb the small and usually muddy path following the stream. You pass birch, beech, and holly trees, another small stone bridge, wend your way through the bracken and there is the circle. This is such a peaceful spot with stunning views out across Dunmanus Bay and the Mizen beyond. The circle is compact and the stones warm and huggable. It hasn't been manicured and mystery remains. It's a great place to sit and think and enjoy the feeling that people have been doing just this for thousands of years.