The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

Legananny Dolmen, County Down, Northern Ireland

Legananney Dolmen, a Megalithic Tomb in Co. Down, Northern Ireland.

Irish Grid Reference: J 28900 43400. Legananny Dolmen can be found beside a footpath in a farmer’s field between Legananny Road and Dolmen Road on the southwestern slopes of Slieve Croob Mountain, near the village of Leitrim, 3 miles northwest of Castlewellan and 4 miles south of Dromora, in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is also called a Tripod Dolmen (as its huge coffin-shaped capstone is precariously perched upon three upright tripod stones), a Portal Dolmen, and Cromlech. The name Dolmen is derived from “stone table”. This quite amazing prehistoric chambered-tomb monument, dating back 5,000 years to the Neolithic, was probably the burial place of a tribal chieftain; although there is not much left of the mound that once protected and covered the burial chamber. This very graceful-looking monument, which is in State Care, is signposted from Leitrim village, and, it can be reached along a footpath going northwards for 50m uphill from Windy Gap car park on Dolmen Road. Legananny Dolmen has become a much-photographed ancient monument.

Resting on three upright stones, one, in particular, being L-shaped, the over three-metre long capstone points slightly downwards at an angle and rests on the smaller of the three uprights – looking as if it might slide off at any moment! But it is quite safe. It is noticeable, too, that the capstone has straight edges as do the uprights; the taller one being very odd-shaped and wider with an L-shaped cut-away notch.

Reader’s Digest (1992) says: “Legananny Dolmen/Lag an Eanaigh. On the south face of Cratlieve, 850ft above sea level, is a dolmen with a special view of the Mourne Mountains to the south. This is megalithic stonework at its most impressive. Whereas many dolmens are only semi-structured groups of fallen boulders, here the great capstone, 10ft by 4ft by 2ft, stands clear of the ground supported on three stones 7½ft high, looking like a huge tripod.

Sources/References & Related Websites:-

Reader’s Digest, Illustrated Guide To Ireland, Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1992.

The AA, Illustrated Guide To Britain, Drive Publications Limited, London, 1968.

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Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2021.


Maen Llia Standing Stone, Powys, Wales

Maen Llia Standing Stone in Powys, Wales.

NGR: SN 92416 19188. On the windswept moorland of Fforest Fawr above the Llia Valley in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Powys, Mid Wales, is a very large standing stone called Maen Llia or The Stone of Llia. The diamond-shaped monolith that resembles a very tall cloaked figure, probably dates from the Bronze Age, and, is a landmark for many miles around in this remote area as it stands to a height of 12 feet and no doubt weighs quite a lot too. It probably marked ancient trackways over the high ground and was a sort of marker stone for directional use for ancient people traversing the moorland, and its shadow used as a sundial! It points in a N-S direction. There is recent graffiti on the stone though this is not easy to make out in certain light. Local legends say the stone goes down the hill to drink in the river, or that it had been picked up and thrown by a giant, but, you tend to get those legends with some of the larger standing stones. The menhir is made of Old Red Sandstone; and is situated near a country road crossing over the moorland towards Ystradfellte, 2 miles south of Heol Senni. You can’t really miss seeing this standing stone! There is another standing stone, Maen Madoc, 1½ miles to the south and close to Sarn Helen Roman road at (SN 918157). This stone has a carved inscription in memory of Dervacus.

Wendy Hughes, writing about the Bronze Age in Brecknock, in 1995, says: “Perhaps another feature of their religious rituals were the solitary standing stones, or Maenhir (long stones), found throughout Wales. In Brecknock we can see a number. One of the three largest in the area is Maen Llia between Sennybridge and Ystradfellte. It is 12 ft tall and 9 ft wide, and must leave many a visitor puzzling at the physical strength of these people to raise a stone of that size. Why did they spend so much time erecting such magnificent stones? Were they placed as some sort of marker, like a pilgrims way to a long-forgotten religious centre? Were they huge sacrificial tables to some pagan god? Sadly the questions remain unanswered.”  

Barber & Williams (1989) tell us: “Maen Llia, a large standing stone above the Afon Lia (SN 924193). It is marked as Maen Llia on the Ordnance Survey maps of 1831, 1920, 1925, 1947, 1952, 1953 and 1967. The History of the Vale of Neath, by D. Rhys Phillips (Swansea, 1925), p.29, states that Maen Llia is 11 feet 2 inches high and 8 feet 4 inches in breadth. On p.743 it says that legend avers that Maen Llia loves fresh water and goes to drink in the River Nedd whenever it hears the crowing of a cock.”  

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Barber, Chris & Williams, John Godfrey, The Ancient Stones of Wales, Blorenge Books, Abergavenny, Gwent, 1989.

Hughes, Wendy, The Story of Brecknock, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Gwynedd, Wales, 1995.

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2021.