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Gorteanish Stone Circle

Category: 
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

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

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.

 

Dunbeacon Stone Circle

Category: 
Stone circle, 11 stones

This multiple stone circle seems to have consisted of 11 original stones - six are still standing, some at odd angles, and the remainder are toppled. In the centre is a slab-like stone stone. It lies in an elevated position high above Dunmanus Bay, over-looked by Mt Corrin  to the east, yet situated in a small dip and with just a glimpse of the sea to the west, through a fold in the hills. It is very similar in size to Gorteanish stone circle almost directly across Dunmanus Bay in Ahakista. The stone row at Coolcoulaghta 400 metres away appears to be aligned to this circle.

Nearby site

Coolcoulaghta Stone Row

Similar site

Gorteanish Stone Circle

Townland: 
Coolcoulaghta
Location: 
On private land, but viewable from the Mines Road heading down into Dunbeacon. Permission needed for access
References: 
V927 392
Fieldnotes: 

I have yet to get up close to this circle as it on an elevated position and surrounded by a strong fence.

January 2013. I have finally manage to visit the stone circle, thanks to a helpful farmer who directed me down a path passed the farmhouse and up onto the mountain. Plump sheep looked on with amazement as I trudge through the mud, battling against the wind. The circle is very secretive and enigmatic. As you approach, sometimes you can see it sometimes not. It is in a little dip encircled by Mt Corrin to the east, Mt Gabriel to the south with views out across to the Sheep's Head to the north.  It feels undisturbed, compact and oddly serene . The stones still standing are a mixture of tall skinny ones, often at lurching angles, and chunkier stones with slightly angled tops. The views in all directions are wonderful and exhilarating.

Summer 2016: a new signed path has been made which leads to the circle. The circle itself is accessible but fenced. Sadly the fencing is very close and although it protects the monument it certainly detracts from its place in the landscape.

Stone Circle, Killeen North

Category: 
5 stone circle

This small stone circle lies on a natural terrace in rough pasture overlooking Bantry Bay. It comprises five stones, and is unusual in that one of the stones is still incorporated into the natural rock. The other four stones include a chunky recumbent stone and three triangular shaped stones. It is possible to see where the stones came from, either falling naturally or being cut by hand  from the rock face. The circle was only discovered in 2002 when the owner was clearing his land. No one seems to have had any memory of the stones, although the area was used extensively for turf cutting. An enclosure for turf lies very close by.  He believes that the circle is aligned to he Samhain (Winter) and Imbolc (Spring) sunsets. Lying to the east of the monument are what could be a fallen standing stone and a wedge tomb. A small enclosure wall lies to the north probably of a similar date to the circle.

 

Townland: 
Killeen north
Location: 
On private land, but the owner is pleased to show people the circle if forewarned.
References: 
OS Map V79576,39174
Fieldnotes: 

An unexpected and delightful sight - compact, special, full of atmosphere, this little circle is tucked into a small ridge over looking Bantry Bay.  The massive rocks which provided the stones seems to play an important part in the site, one stone is still partly attached, and the owner believes the entire rock could have been part of a circular processional route. It feels sheltered and protected, timeless yet connected.

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