I have a keen interest in the ‘goings on’ of ancient Ireland. Not so much an interest in the academic side of who was who, but in the spiritual side of things.
It fascinates me as to what the ancient Irish believed, in a spiritual sense. I reckon they were more in touch with the signs and nature’s communications around them. The key word being “reckon”. Because that is really all we can do, thousands of years later. We can piece together actual events and dates based on the writings of monks and Roman scholarly types etc., but the gaps have to be filled with educated guesses. And one guess is as good as the next when there is no evidence.
I attended a seminar recently at which various speakers from the respective historical organisations of Ireland came to Donegal and gave us their take on things. It was very interesting at times. At other times it was confusing. It seems it’s not just Country singers we can’t agree on, it’s also archaeology and prehistory. Like the speaker representing the National Museum likening a civilian in possession of a metal detector to some sort of highly organised criminal. I found myself slinking further down into my seat the more he spoke.
I gathered the problem is that there have been cases whereby somebody has found some buried artefact or other and before you could say “Archaeology shmology,” the thing is for sale on the internet to the highest bidder. But of course as with all things in the world we (metal detector owners) get tarred with the one brush. There is practically a zero tolerance of metal detectors everywhere in Ireland apart from the beach.
A few speakers later there was a rep from a different Irish body, The Heritage Council, telling us to keep searching like crazy because “..we have only scratched the surface..” as regards ancient discoveries in Ireland. He was my favourite speaker. I straightened back up in my seat. He was making some very interesting statements. I had assumed like so many others that most pre-historical sites of any major significance had been already found and recorded. Not so, according to him…
…and Not so, according to me also. Because two weeks later I found something!
I found a pyramid! Yeah, baby, you heard me, a pyramid, in Donegal, Ireland.
In truth it’s a large three sided stone, about hip high – showing above the heather. I’m not sure how further down it goes, perhaps a couple of foot. There is a longer version of this story which I am gagging to tell but I must remind myself this is a blog post, not a thesis.
I have been doing an awful lot of hill walking lately. Actually the truth is I never leave the hills. My wife calls me Moses, the kids think I’m half goat. I have always been drawn to hills or mountains. If you haven’t been up one lately, get yourself up soon, you’re missing out. It’s like an out of body experience, looking down on the world below. That’s my main reason for hill walking, the spiritual feeling it brings.
So last week as I trekked along a local hill, on the lookout for the burning bush, I came upon this stone. It was on a stretch of the hill I hadn’t really been on before. I was kinda letting my spirit guide me, if that makes sense. I passed the rock at first but as I did so, that little inner voice goes “take a closer look at that rock”. I went towards it and noticed how it was sitting alone on a kind of plateau. I also noted the triangular shape. As I circled it I got a strong feeling that it was somehow a big deal back in day.
I lifted my head and there on the opposite hill in the distance was Grianán of Aileach, a circular ancient stone building. This three sided stone was pointing directly at it. Grianán was also, from this point, perfectly framed in a distant valley.
Grianán of Aileach is one of those places where some knowledge is known but not all. The current structure, which has been restored once or twice, is believed, by a reliable source, to have been built in around 790AD. But he did hasten to add that the current structure has been built inside the perimeter of a much older structure. Some believe it was a fort, more say it was a place of worship, and others say nothing at all. I did read a theory somewhere that it was an amphitheatre. Garth plays Grianán, hmm.
Not far from this three sided rock there is an ancient burial mound, or Cairn. Local legend says it holds the original builder of Grianán. Guess what, one of the other corners points to the cairn. I am not sure yet where the third corner is pointing, if anywhere. But the following day I returned with a compass. I placed it on top of the stone and it turns out that Grianán is also exactly south of this stone.
My gut feeling is that this stone has some ancient significance. I feel this is the spot from where the site for Grianán was chosen.
I snapped a few photos and created a little slideshow. There also appears to be a ‘human face’ carved, probably by nature’s chisel, into one of the ridges of the stone. See if you can spot it. I wish it could talk to me.
The Heritage Council guy was correct, we have only scratched the surface. Look around you, there is an itch somewhere, begging for centuries to be scratched.
Thank you for reading
Frankie. (See slideshow below.)
Two pic credits =grianán aerial shot was from forever-ireland.com and the other was from wikipedia.