There is something so exciting and mysterious about visiting a stone circle. Thankfully we live in an area were there is an abundance of these curious sites, as well as wedge tombs, ring forts, boulder burials and fulachta fiadhs.
Romantic notions aside, it is important to remember there is a practical aspect to exploring the land where these wonderful sites are located. More often than not the monuments are not sign posted and are located smack dab in the middle of someone’s yard or farm field. If you see a sign on the fence post of a historical site that says, “Beware of Bull”, it isn’t the farmer trying to prevent tourists from wandering onto his land. It is because it is a working farm and, yes, there is indeed a bull in the field that particular day.
Case in point. There is a beautiful example of a stone circle in the village of Ardgroom, located in the middle of a working sheep farm. The farmer graciously allows visitors onto his land with but a simple request. Dip your feet in the bucket before traipsing about! I don’t know how many people I saw that day blithely ignoring his request. Here is the sign:
Foot and mouth disease is a terrible sickness that can be transported onto a farmer’s property via car tires and the soles of shoes. If you happen to see a request like this on a farm, and a bucket like the one below, you need only immerse the soles of your shoes in the disinfectant. (extra easy if you are wearing boots) This way the farmer’s animals remain safe, and we are fortunate to be able to continue visiting beautiful sites like the Ardgroom stone circle.
The stone circle is a stunning example of Neolithic workmanship. It is extremely well preserved thanks to generations of respect and care. Under the altar stone is a cist, a stone box containing human remains. Standing in the circle and gazing at the unfolding landscape and ever changing sky, one can only imagine the importance of the man buried there. His tribe mates must have held him in great esteem to choose such a site for his last resting place. (or her resting place as the case may be…)
The last time we visited someone had placed an old, sun bleached sheep skull on the flat stone and decorated it with flowers. Coins and small gifts are left behind by visitors who are often stirred by the magic of the place.
When you visit don’t forget to wear your boots as the land can be quite boggy and muddy in places. Bring your camera and perhaps a coin or two as a small gift for the genius locii.