The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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The Blowing Stone, Kingstone Lisle, Berkshire (Oxfordshire)

Blowing Stone at Kingstone Lisle, Berks.

   OS Grid Reference: SU 32408 87078. A strange and curious stone standing inside a fenced-off area next to a row of quaint cottages on Blowingstone Hill, at Kingstone Lisle, formerly in Berkshire, now Oxfordshire, is the so-called ‘Blowing Stone’, a squat-shaped lump of ancient rock with deep holes in it that is ‘said’ to have originated on White Horse Hill nearby, when it was a perforated sarsen stone. It has a number of myths and legends attributed to it from the time that it was known as the King Stone; the village taking its name from this. The stone also figures in a well-known book that was read by many-a school-boy. This apparent ‘curiosity of geology’ is located just to the south of the village itself and the B4507 road, between the towns of Swinden and Wantage. Kingstone Lisle Park is over the road on the opposite side of the lane from where the stone is now a resident ancient monument, though it used to stand in the garden of the cottage close by, which used to be the village inn!

   The Blowing Stone, also known as King Stone, is in fact a sarsen stone that was originally to be found upon White Horse Hill, 3 miles to the southwest, but was moved to its present location in the mid-18th century. It is curious lump of stone with many geologically-formed perforations, maybe the result of fossilized plants or ancient tree branches falling out of the stone leaving holes; some quite large holes or perforations that go all the way through from one side to the other. But it is not a particularly large stone being just 3 feet in height and about the same in width.

   The stone featured in the famous novel of 1857, ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ by Thomas Hughes (1822-1896) – when it was referred to as the ‘Blawing Stwun’. Local legend has it that by sounding a note through the largest hole, or by blowing and bellowing through the holes, the sound made by doing this is audible as an echo up to 3 miles away – and that King Alfred the Great summoned his Saxon army into battle against the Danes at nearby Ashdown by doing just that, in the form of a trumpet call! It is also claimed that anyone sounding a high-pitched note through the Blowing Stone (that can be heard on White Horse Hill to the southwest), will be, or would be, a future king of England, or so The Legend tells us. Something similar, perhaps, to the legend of King Arthur, although he supposedly pulled a sword out of a rock. 

Sources of information and related websites:-

Reader’s Digest, Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain, Second Edition, The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, 1977.

The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London, 1961.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowing_Stone

http://www.berkshirehistory.com/archaeology/blowing_stone.html

http://www.kingstonlisle.net/the-blowing-stone/

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6963

                                                                                   © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.


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Kid Stone, Sutton Moor, West Yorkshire

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor, West Yorkshire.

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor, West Yorkshire.

   OS grid reference: SD 99632 241758. A glacial erratic rock at the east-side of Kid Stone Hill, above Long Gate, on Sutton Moor, west Yorkshire. It has been a parish boundary stone and way-marker for a long, long time although the actual boundary is ‘now’ some distance away to the south. There are “possible” faint cup-markings on the flat side of the rock, and at the other side there is a curious granite memorial stone to a local sheep farmer and a yew tree within some iron railings. The ‘Kid Stone’ might get its name from ‘a young goat’, or maybe some other localized name – similar perhaps to ‘Buck Stone’, ‘Cat Stone’ and ‘Wolf Stones’ to name but a few on the moor. To reach the stone: follow the footpath from Buckstone Lane towards Hitchin Stone, then south-east towards Quicken Stone, and then via off east across the moor onto Kid Stone Hill – the stone is in front of you. Or take the footpaths going north-west from Long Gate just above Far Slippery Ford.

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (with yew tree).

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (with yew tree).

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (possible faint cup-marks)

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (possible faint cup-marks)

   The weather-beaten glacial erratic boulder known as ‘Kid Stone’ stands on the eastern-side of Kid Stone Hill, on Sutton Moor. It stands upon the windswept moor at around 352 feet and is over 1,100 feet above sea-level. Originally this large gritstone rock marked the parish boundaries of Sutton and Newsholme, but today this boundary is a hundred yards or so further to the south. Geologically speaking the boulder was deposited here by a retreating glacier moving in south-ward direction some 12,000 years ago; this glacier is sometimes re-ferred to locally as ‘the Giant of Rombald’s Moor’ – to the north-east – as it came from there, although the boulder might have been scooped up from somewhere else along the way! The boulder is heavily worn, cracked, and has large grooves and channels running down its sides due to weather-related erosion (lots of rain). On its flat face there are a few “possible” faint cup-marks, or are these perhaps just more signs of erosion? 

   At one side of the boulder, inside some iron railings, there is a small yew tree growing and down at the base an odd/curious granite memorial stone to a local sheep farmer, Walter Rochester Airey, who died in 1994, but in what circumstances is not known. He lived at the farm back up the lane: New Bridge Farm on Buckstone Lane, Sutton-in-Craven. The memorial message on the stone says:- “In Loving Memory of Walter Rochester Airey, d 1994.”

Sources of information and related websites:-

https://www.sutton-in-craven.org.uk/historyDR.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton-in-Craven


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Doubler Stones, Addingham High Moor, West Yorkshire

Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor, west Yorkshire.

Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor, west Yorkshire.

   OS Grid Reference: SE07230 46525. On the windswept Addingham High Moor, west Yorkshire, there stands the heavily weather-worn rocks known as ‘Doubler Stones’ – part of an outcrop of grit and sandstone rocks; their enigmatic rock-shapes being something of a great curiousity to moorland walkers down the years. These strange, weathered stones lie at the south-western edge of Rombald’s Moor. At least one of the Doubler Stones has cup-and-ring carvings, and a few other rocks here and further up the hill might have “possible” faint cup-marks. To reach the stones from the town of Silsden: take the Bolton Road going north-east, then east along Brown Bank Lane, then take Light Bank Lane over the moor to the south-east. Just after White Crag House: take the concrete track up to the gate, then walk along here to the house on the left. Take one of two footpaths north for a short while to Doubler Stones. 

Ghostly shaped Doubler Stones in west Yorkshire.

Ghostly shaped Doubler Stones in west Yorkshire.

   These strange-shaped rocks are part of an outcrop of gritstone and sandstone rocks that stand like weather-worn sentinels watching over the moorland. They have taken on the shape of giant mushrooms or salt and pepper pots, but here they are locally called ‘Doubler Stones’ but whether this is because there are two of them – is not certain. It’s more likely that the name “Doubler” is derived from saucer or dish-shaped stones and this is indeed what they are; the tops of the stones are gritstone rocks that are now eroded and saucer-shaped, while the lower parts are made of very soft Sandstone, and this is why the middle sections have eroded down quite severly and become, over thousands of years, like ‘thin waistlines’ or bottle-neck shapes. One of the Doubler Stones has what looks to be a cluster of tiny cup-marks and a few other “possible” cups with rings and interlinking channels or grooves. A few other rocks here might have faint cup-marks – although these could be geological features. Another outcrop of rocks just up the moor to the east is also of interest as there are a few more “possible” cup-markings on the larger rocks.

One of the Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor.

One of the Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor.

   The author Paul Bennett in his renowned work ‘The Old Stones of Elmet’, gives his account of Doubler Stones: “One of the stones is a giant earth-fast mushroom, eight feet tall, whose upper surface is covered in a number of cup-markings. Ten yards away at the small crag we find the second Doubler Stone, atop of which are two large ‘bowls’ and perhaps some faint cup-markings, but these are debatable.” Bennett goes on to say that: “Nicholas Size (1934) described the stones to be haunted. It is very likely that this site would have possessed the spirits of some ancestral being, hero or other diety in ancient times. Ritual magickians have used the Doubler Stones to great effect. Amidst a decidedly yin landscape, the Doublers intrude with a potent yang quality. A brilliant site and well worth visiting!”

Sources and other related websites:-

Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann Publishing, Milverton, Somerset, 2001.

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/doubler-stones-ilkley-moor/

http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/doublerstones.htm

http://www.happyhiker.co.uk/MyWalks/WestYorkshire/SteetontoIlkleyviaDoublerStones/Hiking%20Pages%20-%20Steeton%20to%20Ilkley%20via%20the%20Doubler%20Stones.htm

                                                                          © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2016.


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The Bridestones, Near Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Bride Stones, west Yorks (Sphinx- like formation).

Bride Stones, west Yorks (Sphinx- like formation).

Bridestones, near Todmorden, west Yorks (OS trig point no: S4501)

Bridestones, near Todmorden, west Yorks (OS trig point no: S4501)

    OS grid reference: SD 9334 26750. Close to the Long Causeway and just east of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, are the Bridestones, outcrops of millstone grit rocks and boulders which are ½ a mile long. Amongst these rocky outcrops are a number of odd-shaped formations that have been caused by weather-related erosion over thousands, if not millions of years.  One huge boulder in particular, known as ‘The Great Bridestone’ is fantastically shaped at its base, looking like an up-turned bottle, as if it might topple over at any moment. There are a number of myths and legends associated with The Bridestones, many of these going back to the mists of time. More recently, perhaps, there are a number of local traditions that have become connected to the place and its many, strange-shaped rocks and boulders. The Bridestones are located about ½ a mile north-east of Eastwood Road – where a footpath runs across the often boggy moor to the outcrops. Another path connects the north-side of the outcrops from Kebs Road, and from just opposite Orchan House Farm at Fast Ends – it runs in a southerly direction across Bridestones Moor.

Bridestones (human face rock formation).

Bridestones (human face rock formation).

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the anvil-shaped rock)

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the anvil-shaped rock)

    At over 1,400 feet above sea-level the Bride-stones on the windswept moors to the east of Todmorden and the Calder Valley, there is a ½ mile long escarpment of Millstone Grit outcrops that stand like rocky sentinels keeping watch over the Pennine moorland. These rock forma-tions have been made by the ‘ravages of time’ – wind and rain over thousands of years weathering away the soft grit-stone into strange and curious shapes, and there are indeed some strange-shaped rocks – some looking like human heads and faces (the sphinx), while others look like prehistoric birds, a giant tortoise, and a bear, and there’s even a huge anvil-shaped rock.

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the rock-house).

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the rock-house).

Bridestones, (a "possible" cup-marked rock).

Bridestones, (a “possible” cup-marked rock).

    There is even a ‘rock-house’ at Fast Ends above Bridestones Farm at (OS grid ref: SD 9277 2690). Local legend says that Nan Moor and Jack Stone lived at the rock-house a few hundred years ago as ‘guardians of the stones’, and they were proba-bly married there, too. They are said to have lived in a wooden structure or homestead that was connected between the two large rocks; one of the oblong-shaped rocks having square-shaped openings in its side, which must have taken a great deal of time to carve out. This wooden structure was dismantled in recent times. Just above the rock-house there are some large, flat rocks which look to have ancient cup-marks but there are also larger, circular depressions that are naturally-formed by rainwater – although it’s sometimes difficult to tell which are natural and which are man-made! And there are many interesting rock basins to be seen.

Great Bride Stone stands like an up-turned bottle.

Great Bride Stone stands like an up-turned bottle.

Great Bride Stone (from a different sideways angle).

Great Bride Stone (from a different sideways angle).

    The name ‘Bridestones’ might be derived from Bridia, Brighid, or Briga, the pre-Roman (Iron Age) diety who is more often known from history as ‘Brigantia’, goddess of the Brigantes tribe of northern England – just prior to, and up to, the Roman Conquest. Or they “might” perhaps take their name from bride as in ‘bride and groom’ at a wedding ceremony, which harks back to times, long ago, when weddings supposedly took place on the moor where the outcrops of rocks now known as ‘Bridestones’ are located. Indeed there is a 15 foot high oval-shaped, weathered rock called ‘Great Bride Stone’ and beside it a smaller rounded rock called ‘the groom stone’. But undoubtedly the Bridestones was a sacred, magical place, and no-doubt a few thousand years ago it was the abode of druids who worshipped heathen gods and also officiated in ritualistic and sacrificial ceremonies, but aside from that they were also poets, historians, magicians, physicians and astronomers.

    Local author John Billingsley in his work ‘Folk Tales from Calderdale’ – Volume 1, says that: “The Bridestones are first mentioned in local documents in 1491, and Smith in his ‘Place-names of the West Riding’ does not quibble with the derivation from ‘bryd’, a bride….. John Stansfeld, however, in 1885, suggested that Danish ‘bred’ and Icelandic ‘bryddr’ married well with Gaelic ‘braidh’ and modern ‘bride’ in meaning ‘edge of the top of the hill’; whether today’s etymologists feel this explanation is defensible or not, the descriptive does fit this location rather well.”

    Billingsley goes on to point out that: “Taylor [Ian Taylor, 1993], has suggested an identification of Bride with ‘the Old Wife’ or Gaelic Cailleach, a traditional spiritual denizen of wild places more usually associated with the Irish goddess Danu; a local appearance of this hag figure may well be the Old Woman.

    “The Bride has also been locally known as the Bottle Neck. Other rocks have been given names, too, arising from one perception or another. Modern climbers have named rocks themselves, like the Indian’s Head and Spy Hole Pinnacle, as well as giving equally vivid names, like the Obscene Cleft, to specific routes. F.A Leyland cites names known in the nineteenth century, like Table Rock and Toad Rock.

    “John Watson knew of the Bride and Groom in 1789, but does not give details of the legend, other than saying the Groom had been “thrown down by the country people”. In keeping with the spirit of the time, however, he saw the rocks as the natural haunt of “a large settlement” of Druids – “a vast variety of rocks and stones so scattered about the common, that at first view the whole looked something like a temple of the serpentine kind”.

    And another local author, Geoff Boswell, in his book ‘On The Tops – around Todmorden’, says: “We know that the early Britons lived in Todmorden. We have the exhibition of objects dug from the bronze age barrow in the library. Perhaps the name Bride is very old and derives from the early British Breiad, the Gaelic Braidh, the Icelandic Bryddir and the Danish Bred. All of which have similar meanings of “the edge , or margin, at the top of a mountain”. It is a sobering thought that the names  of our prominent rocks can derive from very early times and are far older than any written records we have.”

    Author Paul Bennett in his work ‘The Old Stones of Elmet’, says of the Bridestones that it is: “A beautiful, remarkable and powerful site of obvious veneration. First described in local deeds as early as 1491, there are a great number of severely weathered boulders all round, many like frozen giants haunting a magickal landscape.

    “Dedicated to Bride, goddess of the Brigantine people, like her triple-aspect we find a triple-aspect to the outcrops here: to the west are the Bride Stones; to the east, the Little Bride Stones; with the Great Bride Stones as the central group, surveying everything around here. The goddess’ divine qualities were those of healing, smithcraft, poetry, and mother-hood. There is no attendant lore here that relates to any of these elements.

    “Although local history records are silent over the ritual nature of these outcrops, tradition and folklore tell them as a place of pagan worship. People were said to have married here, although whether such lore evolved from a misrepre-sentation of the title, Bride, is unsure. In the present day though there have been a number of people who have married here in recent years.

    “If the Brigantian goddess was venerated here, the date of the most active festivities would have been February 1-2, or Old Wive’s Feast day as it was known in the north.”

Sources and related websites:-

Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann Publishing, Milverton, Somerset, 2001.

Billingsley, John, Folk Tales From Calderdale, Volume 1, Northern Earth, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, 2008.

Boswell, Geoff, On The Tops – around Todmorden, (Revised Edition), Delta G, Hollinroyd Farm, Todmorden, 1988.

http://www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk/folklore/bridestones.html

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/great-bride-stones/

http://www.mypennines.co.uk/south-pennines/walks/301113.html#sthash.AKhGBLJg.dpbs

                                            © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities.


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Robin Hood’s Stone, Near Riddlesden, West Yorkshire

Robin Hood's Stone at Holden Gate, near East Riddlesden.

Robin Hood’s Stone at Holden Gate, near  Riddlesden.

    OS grid reference SE 0620 4446. A large pointed stone shaped like the head of a dinosaur, or maybe a dragon, stands below a rocky outcrop on Pinfold Hill, close to Holden Lane at Holden Gate, near Riddlesden, West Yorkshire. It is locally called ‘Robin Hood’s Stone’ but whether the legendary outlaw of Sherwood Forest ever visited it we don’t know, although there is also a Robin Hood’s Wood about ¼ a mile to the north-east of the stone. To make the stone look more interesting some bright-spark has painted eyes and teeth on it! It can be reached by travelling north along Holden Lane to the north-west of Riddlesden, and is about 450m further along the road from Holden Gate, and just after the footpath on the right. You can’t really miss it!

Robin Hood's Stone (with possible cup-marks).

Robin Hood’s Stone (with possible cup-marks).

    A curious stone this is mainly because of its strange shape. It looks as if it has, at some point, slid down the hillside from the rocky outcrop above on Pinfold Hill, when there was a perhaps a Geological earth movement here. Or could it be a glacial erratic boulder? But it doesn’t look like an erratic boulder to me because it seems to be very well embedded into the ground. It stands at a crazy, precarious angle and because of that it looks as if it could slither down the hillside at any moment! The large pointed stone has taken on the look of a dinosaur’s head, or could it be a dragon’s head, or a bird’s head! Some bright-spark has painted eyes and teeth on the stone to make it look like that maybe. On the flat, sloping side of the stone there are some “possible” prehistoric cup-marks, or were a few of these round holes made by climbers who often practice on the rock?

Robin Hood's Stone (looking up at the stone).

Robin Hood’s Stone (looking up at the stone).

    Legend says that Robin Hood the outlaw of Sherwood Forest came here and took shelter beneath the stone; well he wouldn’t have had too far to travel from Kirkless, near Leeds. And Robin was maybe born in Wakefield! And just up the hill to the north-east of the stone we have a Robin Hood Wood. Paul Bennett of ‘The Northern Antiquarian’ has suggested that the stone was moved here in the Victorian period from near Barden Tower (Bolton Abbey way), and he goes on to say that Robin Hood’s Stone was once nearly broken up and taken away for building material – had it not been for local people who objected to its removal. He also thinks the stone “was” a meeting place at the pagan festival of Beltane (1st May). Check out TNA website (below).

Sources and related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/robin-hoods-stone-riddlesden/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2006/09/20/robin_hood_wakefield_feature.shtml


The Mysterious Disappearing Boulders, Moeraki Beach, Otago, South Island, New Zealand

Moeraki Boulders, South Island, New Zealand (Photo credit: Karsten Sperling) (Wikipedia)

Moeraki Boulders, South Island, New Zealand (Photo credit: Karsten Sperling) (Wikipedia)

Latitude: -45.348199. Longitude: 170.827305. Strewn along the Moeraki beach, Koekohe Beach and Shag Point, in the Otago region, at the far south-eastern side of South Island, New Zealand, are many strange oval and spherical-shaped boulders – resembling, perhaps, giant potatoes – indeed the very name ‘Moeraki’ means “potatoes” in the Maori language of New Zealand. There is an interesting legend, to say the least, which attests to this strange curiosity. Many of these boulders are often half submerged in the sand and bed-rock, but when the tide comes in they mysteriously disappear, obviously, (or do they) and, after the tide goes back out they are seen to be not submerged ie ‘completely whole’ or fully uncovered of sand. These large boulders probably date back 60-65 million years. They are located in the south-eastern part of the South Island, in New Zealand, some 35 km (22 miles) south of Oamaru, between Moeraki and Hampden, and 80 km (67 miles) north of Dunedin. Access to the boulders is from highway 1 (Hampden-Palmerston road), just half a mile south of Hampden town, to the Moeraki Boulders Visitor Centre and car-park.

Broken boulder at Moeraki (Photo credit: William M. Connolley for Wikipedia)

Broken boulder at Moeraki (Photo credit: William M. Connolley for Wikipedia)

These curious grey boulders are literally strewn along the beach, often in clusters, and some in smaller groups of two or so. They vary in size but generally they are somewhere between 1 foot 7 inches and 7 foot 2 inches in circumference and in height between 2-8 feet; some are damaged and broken up due to constant erosion from the pounding waves, many others are wonderfully smooth-shaped and ‘naturally patterned’ with unusual circular, diamond and oblong shapes, said to be somewhat similar to ‘the eyes in potatoes’, but with connecting lines. The boulders are made of hardened mud, silt and clay, and they are cemented together with calcite which is often quite weak at the core and hard at the outer rim, which might account for some of the boulders cracking apart! Seamus P. Cahill writing in ‘Ireland’s Own’ magazine says that these “Huge stones appear on the sand at Otago, New Zealand, and then disappear – only to be replaced mysteriously by new ones!”.

In the colourful and informative book ‘The Beauty of New Zealand’ by Errol Brathwaite  we are informed that: “Moeraki Beach is named after the potato which ancient Polynesian voyagers brought with them in their double-hulled, ocean-going canoe. The canoe, so the olden legend goes, capsized near Shag Point, at the end of the beach, and the moeraki potatoes and some gourds which she was carrying were strewn by the tide along the beach, and were later transformed into boulders. Today, these septarian stones lie half buried in sand, a geological oddity, rusty-red or yellow inside, with crystalline cores”.

But we know that in geological terms they date back 60-65 million years and apparently lay on the sea bottom for much of that time, until the sea-levels began to fall some 15 million years ago. But the fact that “they” disappear and then reappear is simply an over-active (vivid) imagination from more recent times. The boulders are now something of a tourist attraction, and visitors (and geologists!) come here from all over the world to see these strange and curious rock formations. The boulders are sometimes called Araiteuru after the legendary Polynesian voyager sailing canoe which was said to have brought them here hundreds of years ago when they were apparently, and with much imagination – large potatoes! It is recorded that the Araiteuru also carried a cargo of calabashes, barracudas and eel baskets, and so I am minded to say that it must have been a very, very large canoe to carry such a large amount of items!

Sources:

Brathwaite, Errol., The Beauty of New Zealand, Golden Press Pty Ltd., Avondale, Auckland, New Zealand, 1982.

Cahill, Seamus P., (Just Imagine), Island’s Own, Wexford, Ireland, (various dates).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moeraki_Boulders

http://www.kuriositas.com/2010/09/mysterious-moeraki-boulders.html

http://www.leeduguid.com.au/blog/new-zealand-south-island/


The Gloonan Stone, Cushendun, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

The Gloonan Stone, Co.Antrim

The Gloonan Stone (Rosemary Garrett)

Irish grid ref: D2336 3218. A couple of miles to the west of Cushendun village, Co. Antrim, along the Glendun road and opposite Craigagh church can be found The Gloonan Stone, or St Patrick’s Knee-Stone, which is actually one of literally hundreds of balluan stones that are to be found in Ireland, and is said to date back to the time of the Irish patron saint, though it’s more likely to pre-date him. The Church of St Patrick and St Brigid across the road is worth looking at and, in Craigagh Woods to the west, there is an ancient, carved altar stone (Altar In The Woods) that has been frequented by the local Catholic community for hundreds of years. The village of Knocknacarry is roughly ½ a mile to the south-east on the opposite side of the Dun river, while the coastal village/townland of Cushendall is 8 miles to the south-west on the A2 road.

At the opposite side of the Roman Catholic church of St Patrick and St Brigid on Glendun Road at the side of the entrance to the farm stands the famous Gloonan Stone with a large hollowed out, circular hole and a smaller circular depression that is considered to be one of the more famous of all the balluan stones in Ireland. The name Gloonan (gluin) means knee-stone, this one in particular being associated with the great St Patrick. Of the two holes the deeper one often has water inside it that is locally considered to be miraculous – in fact it is, perhaps, sometimes erroneously called St Patrick’s Well, the water having the ability to cure warts and other skin problems. Legend says that when St Patrick was travelling this way in the 5th century AD he stopped here, knelt down on the stone and drank the water, thus making the water from that time onwards, miraculously curative; his knee apparently caused the smaller, circular depression, at least that’s the ‘legend’. Other possibilities being that the stone was used by Celtic missionaries as a sort of baptismal font, another that it was used for the grinding of corn?

In St Patrick and St Brigid’s Catholic church, dating from 1917, across the road there is a lovely Rose window and also some other interesting stained-glass. Inside the entrance stands a replica of the medieval Ardclinis crozier, the original one being in the National Museum, Dublin. This bishop’s crozier came from the monastic site at Ardclinis near Waterford and could well be associated with St Patrick?

In Craigagh Woods to the west stands the famous ‘Altar In The Woods’, an oval-shaped stone set into a rock with the crucified Christ and a winged cherub carved onto it; there used to be an inscription but this has worn away. The stone was brought here by boat from the island of Iona, western Scotland, in the 1500s by local people in the days of Penal Law. The Local Roman Catholic community came to worship at this rocky site long before the carving of Christ as it was well hidden by the oak trees, and every June crowds of people with ‘great faith’ still come to worship here at the altar and at the little chapel that stands on the site of an earlier religious building, probably of a medieval date.

Source:-

Garrett, Rosemary., Cushendun, and the Glens of Antrim, J.S. Scarlett & Sons, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, 1956.

Links:-

http://www.cushendunweb.co.uk/St%20Patricks/stpatshome.htm

http://www.heartofthecausewaycoastandglens.com/Portals/0/downloads/HeartOfAntrimGlensVisitorGuide.pdf

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