Happy New Year!

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Blackstairs ridge from outside Saint Mullins, December 2010

Just a quick message to wish all my followers a prosperous, successful and happy 2014. The New Years Resolution is to make use of this blog so I promise lots more archaeology to come and certainly an improvement on 2013 🙂

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Sunset over Kilmashogue Mountain, February 2013

And for all the walkers out there stay safe on the hills!

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Slieve Donard (with the top of the Mourner Wall just about visible) January 2013

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Winter Solstice Moonrise at Brownshill Dolmen, Carlow

This post has nothing to do with uplands. In fact it couldn’t be further from the uplands being set just outside Carlow town. You can see Mount Leinster, the Castlecomer Plateau and the Wicklow Mountains on a clear day from here so that will do as the upland link.

There was a monstrous moon rising over Carlow last night (21st December). It was almost orange in colour and I’ve never seen it the size it was except in films where a wolf is silhouetted against it. Since Brownshill is only out the road from us I thought it might me nice to get some photos of the portal tomb with the large moon so my father and myself headed out to the site.

It was a completely clear night with only wisps of low cloud. It was so clear even the lights from the town made little difference on the night sky. By the time we reached the Dolmen the moon had completely shrank to what it would normally look like. But it wasn’t a wasted journey at all, the moon was rising directly in line with the eastern entrance stone. The mica in the granite capstone and portal stones was sparkling and we had the site completely to ourselves. I’m not sure if anyone else has witnessed this in recent decades or can we make the same claim as O’Kelly at Newgrange in 1967 and be the first to witness it since prehistory 😉

It’s not just the sun that can create a bit of magic this time of year!!!

Brownsehill Dolmen. Entrance stone is the large rectangular stone in middle

Brownsehill Dolmen. Entrance stone is the large rectangular stone in middle

Brownsehill Dolmen with the moon rising to East

Brownsehill Dolmen with the moon rising to East

Brownsehill Dolmen with moon rising to east

Brownsehill Dolmen with moon rising to east

Moon rising from inside the chamber

Moon rising from inside the chamber

Moon rise from inside the chamber

Moon rise from inside the chamber

Moon rise from inside the chamber

Moon rise from inside the chamber

My father Kevin at the Dolmen

My father Kevin at the Dolmen

I’m off to Knockroe Passage Tomb in Kilkenny this afternoon to watch the sunset alignment which worked yesterday. This will be the third year in a row going down after two cloudy years so third time lucky!!!

The Tower, Knockmulgurry

The Tower, Knockmulgurry

Another aerial photograph taken using a kite, this time over a site known as “The Tower” above Knockmulgurry and on the slopes beneath Caher Roe’s Den. The site is located on the side of a disused roadway known as the Tower Road. Above this is the Wexford Road, both of which meet at a site known as “The Meeting Point” where a Lughnasa festival was held at the end of July until recently.
The site is in a ruinous state today but consisted of a two storey rectangular structure aligned North-South with the southern gable still standing. There is a window on the top floor of this wall. There is an additional rectangular room or outhouse on the east side and a the base of a circular tower on the south-western corner. The steep slope was cut away and levelled out to make way for the construction of this structure. The site is situated in an area surrounded by field systems in various states of use. Some of these were used for the cultivation of rye.
It is marked as a roofed structure on the first edition Ordnance Survey maps (1839) but only consists of the main structure and the circular tower. It appears as a ruin on the 25″ series (1890’s) although the circular tower is still shown as being roofed and the eastern room or outhouse has been added in the meantime.

Jack Ryan’s Walls

Jack Ryan's Walls

Kite Aerial Photograph taken in November of a site known as Jack Ryan’s Walls on the eastern slopes of Knockroe Mountain. The site is east of Shannon’s New Fields. Nearby enclosures show signs of ridge and furrow indicating former cultivation, Ruin of this site marked on the first edition 25″ maps (1890’s) but not on first edition 6″ maps (1839). It consists of two structures. There is no sign of a formal fireplace in it’s current state.  The green grassy patch in the small outside enclosure indicates a higher soil fertility possibly from keeping an animal such as a pig on the site.