Beltany Stone Circle
Just south of Raphoe lies the Beltany stone circle one of the finest examples of a stone circle in Ireland today.
Its name comes from the spring festival of Beltane which is associated with the lighting of fires on hilltops and a rekindling of the sun, marking the beginning of summer.
The megalithic monument dates from the later Bronze Age at around 1400 to 800 BC. The stone circle is 44.2m in diameter and contains 64 stones which have an average height of 1.8m. It is thought that there were originally 15-20 more stones.
One of the stones on the northeast of the circle is decorated with numerous cup-marks (a form of prehistoric art). There is also a single 2 metres high stone standing outside on the southwest side of the circle and it probably had some sort of function to do with ceremonies carried out at the circle.
A stone head dating from the iron age (400 BC – 400 AD) was found at the site, which suggests that the site remained a place of ceremonial activity long after it was first built. The head is now located at the National Museum in Dublin. There is also a replica on display in the Donegal County Museum in Letterkenny.
To view a more detailed description of the site click here.
Close to the Beltany Stone Circle site you will find Oakfield Park Gardens which is well worth a visit.
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