'Modorragh' : Bullaun Stone

TownlandModdoragh
CountyLeitrim
Grid RefG 918 237
GPSG 91809 23721 (7m)
Longitude8° 7' 31.47" W
Latitude54° 9' 44.45" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDrumkeeran (1.3 Km)
OS Sheet26
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Monday, 9th April 2007

This looks so easy on the map. A track over the hill passes within about 100m of the stone, which is just to the east of a rath. Surely it can't be that hard to locate? Oh yes it can! What a nightmare this one is. The hilltop is partially used for cattle, but the rest doesn't seem to have bene farmed for a while. Each field is now totally separated from the next as gateways have grown over. The hedges are all thorn trees and brambles, too. Moving about up here is not easy and I do not recommmend that anyone tries for this stone.

The bullaun stone itself is rather nice. It's a bit of an ugly lump, all gnarly and nobbly, but still not at all bad. There are three basins running down its length. Each one is about 25cm in diameter. The boulder only just stands proud of the ground. In the height of summer, when the grass is long, this would be hhard to spot. The stone is aligned east-west and lies on an east-facing slope. Sadly, the mad hedgerows completely obscure the views from the site. The rath that is marked on the map is quite large, but so overgrown that I haven't added it as a distinct site.

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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