Monday, March 25, 2013

Athgreany Stone Circle – The Pipers Stones, County Wicklow

Like the majority of stone circles in Ireland, this stone circle at Athgreany in Co. Wicklow probably dates to the earlier part of the Bronze Age. The true purpose of these sites is unknown and there are a number of theories about their use. It is thought that they could have served as ceremonial centres during religious rites, or perhaps as calenders to mark the suns position to inform the people when to sow their crops. A number of stone circles also have burials associated with them, though it is unknown whether any burials are associated with this one at Athgreany.

This circle has an internal diameter of approximately 15 metres. Unfortunately it appears that only five of the stones are still in their original positions as somebody in the past tried unsuccessfully to clear the field, the stones still in their original positions vary in height from around 1.3m – 2m. 

The large outlying stone known as 'The Piper'

Local folklore tells us that people caught dancing on a Sunday were turned to stone and now are forever frozen mid-dance. The large outlying stone represents the piper who played for the unfortunate dancers. This is a large glacial erratic located about 40m from the circle. Large grooves criss-cross the top of this stone and may represent basic megalithic art, probably suggesting that although this large stone is in its original position since the glacier deposited it, it still formed an important part of the site and ceremonies of the circle.

The site at Athgreany is very easy to find and access, it is located approximately 15km north of Baltinglass on the Dublin Road. It is well signposted, with a small area of hard shoulder to leave the car. Climb over the wooden stile and the stones are on a hilltop after less than a 200m walk, an information panel at the bottom of the hill describes the site.

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