Knocktemple : Bullaun Stone

Grid RefO 206 029
GPSO 20554 02890 (7m)
Longitude6° 12' 5.35" W
Latitude53° 3' 47.04" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownRoundwood (1.6 Km)
OS Sheet56
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 7th January 2007

I have attempted to find this stone in the past and after the seemingly exhaustive search then I'd assumed it was now gone. So, I don't knwo why I really came back, but I'm very glad I did. This bullaun stone occupies the highest spot on a dome-like knoll that is bordered on the south side by a ravine created by a stream that runs down to the resevoir to the west.

On the edge of this small gorge is an ancient church site. It is this that give the townland its name - Knocktemple = Hill of the Old Church. The use of temple in a name only refers to very early churches and Kill is used for later ones. The remains of the church are now in the middle of a thorn thicket. They are unmortored. The bullaun stone is 35m to the north of the church ruins.

Unusually the upper surface of the bullaun stone is not flat. The single bullaun is set into a west-facing sloping face of the earthfast boulder. It is 35cm in diameter and holds water.

The original purpose of bullan stones is not really known, but they have an undisputable association with water and Brigid worship. A 'bullaun' is a deep hemispherical cup hollowed out of a rock. Bullaun Stone refers to the rock itself, which can have many bullauns in it, although many are single.

It is generally thought that they date from the Bronze Age, but I personally believe there is a much old provenance to them and that there is a relationship to prehistoric rock art, for a good example of this see Glassamucky Mountain (County Dublin).

Ritual use of some bullaun stones has continued well into the Christian period and many are found in association with early churches (The Deer Stone (Glendalough D) (County Wicklow) is just one of many at Glendalough (County Wicklow)) and holy wells. Their presence at so many early Christian sites, to me, places them as being of massive importance to the pre-Christian inhabitants of Ireland and something the church was very eager to assimilate.

The beautiful example at St Brigit's Stone (County Cavan) still has its 'cure' or 'curse' stones. These would be used to by a visitor turning them whilst praying for (or cursing) someboby.

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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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