Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Circles at Beaghmore

Driving from Kilrea on our journey to find the Circles of Beaghmore, the roads were progressively narrower and narrower, until we drove out to the circles on one lane. At least it was paved! Finding the circles was quite easy, they had signs once we were within 2 miles.

These stones are the smallest we have seen set into circles. The tallest was about my height.

It was quite easy to visualize people moving these stones, unlike the huge ones in other places. Beaghmore is dated at 6000 bc, that makes them older than Stonehenge, but younger than the stone rows at Carnac in Brittany. Like a lot of things, circles seemed to get fancier as they went on.

Beaghmore is a series of 7 circles. 6 are set in pairs with a rock caern between them. In the caerns were found cremated remains; a burial place for one person. Leading to the single circle were two lines of rocks, one for lining up the summer solstice sunrise, the other to show the moonrise on the same day.

When these stone were erected, the land was forested. Over time, the forests died and the area became a bog. It was in the 1960's that peat cutters, a main source of heating fuel in Ireland, reached the level of the stones. Fortunately for us, they realized this was something unusual, and called in the University to figure it out.

Place such as Beaghmore always feel special to me. Why would people who had to work every minute just to survive, take the time and energy to build these circles? There are many theories. I think they did it because it was enjoyable. And it is still enjoyed by people, 8000 years later.

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