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Remarkable carvings discovered on the Grange Stone Circle at Lough Gur



Lough Gur Stone Circle, where the new carvings were discovered. Picture: Ken Williams.

It is possible that the decorated stone is contemporary with the banked enclosure henge at around 3,000 BC

The carvings have concentric circles and arcs placed on the back and sides of the fourth stone to the north of the entrance passage. Picture: Ken Williams. 

On August 17, ancient carvings were identified on a rock in Lough Gur’s Grange Stone Circle. The discovery was made by Ken Williams, a leading Irish archaeological photographer.

Williams has developed methods of lighting stones to photograph them to maximum effect and has found several new carvings over the years in this way.




These new carvings have concentric circles and arcs placed on the back and sides of the fourth stone to the north of the entrance passage of the Lough Gur Stone Circle. It is referred to as Stone 9 in the published site plans.

“The carvings are quite like those at passage tombs in the North and East of the country, such as Knowth and Newgrange, but there is only a single carved stone of this kind in Munster or Connaught.  It is possible that the stone is contemporary with the banked enclosure henge at c.3000 BC and was incorporated into the circle built inside the enclosure at a slightly later date,” explained Dr Elizabeth Shee Twohig, who has published extensively on megalithic and rock art.

Kate Harrold, Manager of Lough Gur, added, “This ground-breaking find by photographer Ken Williams provides further evidence of Lough Gur’s importance on an international level. We look forward to working with the OPW, National Monuments Service and Limerick City and County Council to highlight this monumental discovery for Limerick.”

Williams plans to publish the photographs of the carvings in the Lough Gur Stone Circle in an academic paper, which will describe the art and discuss comparable examples elsewhere.

Limerick TD Patrick O’Donovan thanked the photographer for notifying the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage of his findings; “This ensures that the discovery can be appropriately recorded. I would encourage members of the public to contact the OPW and the Department immediately if they find anything unusual, as everyone can play their part to protect our past.”

Archaeologist Rose Cleary added, “It is probable that the decorated stone at Grange Stone Circle was part of the initial development when an embanked enclosure was erected by people who were familiar with cultures in Britain, known in the archaeological record as ‘Grooved Ware’. We will never know what rituals took place at Grange, but we do know that it is one of the most important clusters of prehistoric monuments in the Lough Gur region.

“The discovery of carvings on a stone at Grange confirms that the discipline of archaeology is constantly evolving, and new discoveries can change our interpretation and understanding of our past.”

The Lough Gur Stone Circle comprises a ring of continuous uprights up to 2.8 metres high, with a diameter of 45 metres and backed by an earthen bank 9 metres wide and about 1.2 metres tall.  It is the largest standing stone circle in Ireland. The largest stone in the circle is ‘Rannach Chruim Duibh’, which is over 13 feet high and weighs 40 tons.

The community organisation Lough Gur Development was founded in 1969 and officially inaugurated in 1993 in order to promote, preserve and protect the history, archaeology, folklore, and environment of Lough Gur and surrounding areas.

For more information on the Lough Gur Stone Circle, go HERE

For more stories on Lough Gur, go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.