Beaghmore Stone Circles, Rows, Cairns, Tyrone, Ireland

It was a dreary evening when we visited Beaghmore late last September. Its an unusual place, very poorly signposted, and perhaps not as instantly striking as many other stone circles and cairns dotted around the country, but when a closer look is taken this is when its true essence is seen. Beaghmore is the site of seven low stone circles (six of which are paired), twelve cairns and ten stone rows, its easy to see that the area must have been a hive of activity in neolithic times. Most of the stone circles date from 2000BC-1200BC however tools that were found on the site are carbon dated at up to a thousand years before hand which shows the importance of the site. What its purpose was is unclear, there are many stone rows that run towards the stone circles at different angles and the perfectly titled ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ is unlike any stone circle I have seen before! What makes the ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ such an interesting circle is the fact that the interior circle is dotted with 800 smaller stones standing upright, its purpose remains unknown.

It does seem though that the area housed quite a significant number of people as several of the stone rows run over the remnants of old field walls, which show the area was cultivated prior to the rows being erected, also if you look around the area surrounding the exposed structures its easy to imagine that so much more lies in the boggy earth around; in fact its incredibly fortunate that we even know Beaghmore exists as the whole thing had been submerged in Peatland. It was only during peat cutting in the early 1940s that the staggering 1249 stones were found. The circles and cairns were partially excavated in the late 40’s and then again in the 60’s, a porcellanite axe, remnants of humans skull and cist graves. There are many options posed as to what Beaghmore’s purpose was, there has been a lot of discussion around thepossible astronomical alignment of the stone rows, others say they are ceremonial pathways, regardless of its purpose – which we may never know – it is easy to see that this place held an important place in the parts of those who built it.

GPS: 54.70208, -6.93773

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