Gurteen : Stone Circle

CountyKerry
Grid RefW 005 698
GPSW 00506 69814 (5m)
Longitude9° 26' 41.12" W
Latitude51° 52' 18.41" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBantry (21 Km)
OS Sheet85
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 25th September 2005

Every so often you come across a site that is perfect and this is one of those. What a beautiful stone circle this is. Of the eleven stones that make up the circle just one has fallen.

As you walk up the little track that leads from the road and see the circle for the first time you see a low, flat-topped stone opposite you and assume it is the axial stone - an easy mistake to make (I did). A line drawn through this stone from the centre of the circle points directly at a bug scoop in the mountains, so it does seem to mark a definite alignment. However, just to make sure you know which is the real one, the proper axial stone is massively long - over two metres across! To make doubly sure there are two entrance stones set outside the circle opposite this.

The more you look at this one the more amazing it gets. The axial stone points SW (as you would expect) in a Cork/Kerry stone circle. The pseudo axial stone points south. The tallest, most pointy stone marks due east and pointing north there is a squared off stone. Oh, and did I mention that there's a boulder burial in the middle of the circle?

What a beautiful place. The views are amazing and being so remote there isn't a sound in the air to disturb you.

Stones circles, put quite simply, are rings of standing stones, although not all of them are cicular, many being eliptical. Many have definite layout plans and often stone circles in one region share a similar style, e.g. Cork features many axial stones circles, where a recumbent stones faces an apparent entrance into the circle (see Drombeg (County Cork)).

They are the most well known of megalithic monuments and the ones most likely to capture anyone's imagination. Many theories exist about the original purpose of these enigmatic structures, the most popular (and at times most controversial) one is that they were built as astronomical observatories, many having apparent solar alignments with the sunrise and sunsets at the solstices and equinoxes. Lunar and star alignments have also ben noted.

No matter what the exact purpose it is certain that they played a significant role in the ritual or religious lives of the builders. One thing that nearly everyone has in common is that they are located in the most dramatic of places, usually offering unrivalled views.

Quite often other monuments, such as alignments, cairns, boulder burials or outliers, are to be found in close proximity to stone circles.

Like this monument

Marked Sites

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Stone Circles

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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