Saturday, 20 December 2008
Given that it is the eve of the winter solstice here is a picture of Ballynoe, not too far away from where I live. In the background you can see Slieve Donard, the highest mountain in the Mournes. The original name for the mountains was Beanna Boirche (the peaks of Boirche - named after a cow herd who ruled the Kingdom of Mourne).
Below is a description of Ballynoe given by Anthony Weir on his website Irish Megaliths.
A very large circle of over 50 stones up to 1.8 metres high (though many smaller) encloses a space about 35 metres across. It was built as a counterpart to the circle at Swinside in Cumbria. In the E half of the circle is a long low mound which contained large kists at the E and W ends. This mound obliterated two shortlived cairns built after the circle was constructed, in what Aubrey Burl describes as "prehistoric bigotry and vandalism [which] ruined this magnificent monument. "
Three pairs of stones stand outside the circle at varying distances, the nearest pair at the W side forming a kind of entrance 2.1 metres wide. Many of the stones in this circle were originally shoulder to shoulder, as at Lough Gur, at Swinside in Cumbria and La Menec in Brittany. A portalled entrance is aligned on the setting sun half-way between midwinter and midsummer (around March 21st), and the setting sun at winter solstice seems to slide down between the Mountains of Mourne which form a fine backdrop to the circle.