Derrynablaha : Standing Stone

Grid RefV 766 775
GPSV 76644 77521 (6)
Longitude9° 47' 37.85" W
Latitude51° 56' 10.52" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownSneem (13.1 Km)
OS Sheet78
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 16th January 2005

I was so keen about hunting for the rock art in this townland that I had forgotten that there was a standing stone marked on the OS map.

It stands atop a small round outcrop with extensive views to the east and south. To the south you can see the Dingle Penninsular with its peaks rising into the clouds across the water. It is the view to the east that is really something here and, I think, gives a real clue to the choosing of this small patch of valley as the focus of so much activity.

Due east of this area is a deep cleft between two mountains. Just in front of this is Lough Brin, a smallish body of water. This needs verfiying by observation, but I think that the Equinox sun will rise in the pass and light up the lake, forming a big expanse of gold hovering across the valley. Even if this effect does not occur the sunrise through the gap will be stunning.

The standing stone is about 1.2m tall and pointed. As if to confirm its indication of the Equinox sunrise its long axis points in that direction.

While I was wondering around the slopes nearby looking for two pieces of rock art the sun came out and a mini rainbow appeared in the field in front of me. It was just 40m across and, obviously, only 20m tall. I could see the whole thing. I felt like I could reach out and touch it. I then realised that my cameras were 100m away where I'd placed them while scrambling over rocks. By the time I'd got back to them the sun had gone in. It would have been nice to have a photo of this to share with everyone, but the experience was so fantastic that I'll remember it for the rest of my life, photos or no photos.

One of the most fascinating types of remains left to us by our neolithic ancestors. Enigmatic carvings on rocks, either loose boulders or earth-fast rocks. Designs vary enormously from simple cup marks to amazing spirals, zig-zags, checker-board and lozenge patterns.

No one knows what these symbols once stood for, but many theories exist including star charts, calendars and maps. Many passage tombs are adorned with rock art, both inside the chamber and on the kerb.

Standing stones, also called menhirs or monoliths, are the most simple of megalithic monuments. They are exactly what they say, a stone that stands with one end set into the ground. Being simple in form does not make them simple to understand, for they have served several purposes over time. Some were placed to mark burials, others were probably erected to mark boundaries or travel routes, the purpose of others is uncertain, but it may well have been ritual.

Standing stones can vary enormously in size from a under 1m tall to over 4m. Some have been purposely shaped (see Stone Of Destiny (County Meath)) and some must have been chosen purely for their shape (see Ballyvatheen (County Kilkenny)). Most standing stones are dated to be from the Bronze Age, but some are clearly older, especially those associated with passage tombs such as at Knowth (County Meath) and Loughcrew - Corstown (County Meath).

Others have been re-used in later times (see Kilnasaggart (County Armagh) and Breastagh (County Mayo)), perhaps to try and capture some of the powers of the old gods or to legitamise a claim to land.

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About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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