Thursday, March 18, 2021

Archaeology 360: Beaghmore Stone Circles, Co Tyrone

It seems so long ago now, but during one of the inter-lockdown periods of last year the Chapple family headed for the distant shores of mid-Ulster to spend a few days in the open air and experiencing some of the great archaeology of the Tyrone/Fermanagh area. Along the way the Chapples Minor were fed, watered, and introduced to some of the most beautiful and important archaeological sites anywhere you choose to look ... well, in my opinion at any rate.

First on our virtual tour is the Beaghmore complex of Early Bronze Age cairns, stone circles and stone alignments. From excavations carried out from the 1940s onward it has been established that the area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period and that some of the later Bronze Age monuments directly overlie the remains of Neolithic field walls etc. Over-farming throughout these early periods led to a deterioration of soil quality and eventually resulted in the grown of substantial bog cover, which enveloped and protected the site. It was only rediscovered in the late 1930s by a farmer cutting peat.

There is the inevitable question as to what did this collection of stones mean to those who built it. At one level, it is a cemetery, owing the the several cremation burials recorded there. However, the stone rows are (roughly) aligned on various solar and lunar events - you really can take your pick of whatever stones best suit your particular theory. For all that, my favourite is Michael Mac Donagh’s argument that these mid-Ulster sites are meant to mirror the craters on the face of the moon [here]. He's probably not right, but it is my favourite! Be warned though - the site isn't to everyone's taste. Blueface74 decided to go over to Trip Advisor and decry it all as 'some stones in a field' ... and they're quite right. Some of us just loves us some stones in a field & some of us don't! If, like me, you're in the former group, please enjoy this gentle, immersive tour around this gorgeous, wonderful site.

You can view it on an ordinary browser or on the dedicated YouTube app, but for best results we recommend the immersive experience that comes with an Oculus/Google Cardboard headset. Please feel free to Like and Share the video and Subscribe to the Archaeology 360 channel. If you’re feeling peculiarly generous and wish to help purchase snacks to sustain the Chapples Minor in the field, please drop something in the Tip Jar on the top right of this page.