Beltany Stone Circle, Donegal, Ireland

Beltany stone circle is certainly one of the largest structures I have come across in my time visiting these sites, measuring a massive 45 metres in diameter. 64 stones stand around a tumulus or low earth mound – about 50cm in height – originally the site would have contained around 80 stones but was disturbed during the early 19th century. Beltany dates from 1400-800BC but appears to have been of significant cultural value for a significant period, a stone head that was found at the site dates from between 400BC to 400AD. The name of the site suggests a link to Bealtaine, the ancient Irish festival that announces the beginning of summer. A single stone measuring 2 metres in height stands outside the circle, similar to the Piper’s Stones at Athgreany, Co. Wicklow, and may have served as a focal point for rites or ceremonies within the circle. One of the stones is decorated with cup marks and appears to be loosely aligned with the sunrise at Bealtaine. There is a school of thought that believes the stone circle may have surrounded a cairn at some point during its lengthy history.

GPS: 54.85096, -7.60228

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