Stone Circles in West Wicklow area
This is a short overview of four Stone Circles in the Donard/Imaal vicinity.
Stone circles are considered to be ritual or ceremonial sites and have been dated to the late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. In Ireland the majority of the stone circles are located in the Cork/Kerry area and mid-Ulster region. There are four major stone circles in the Donard/Imaal area.
The Northern most one is Broadleas which consists of twenty-seven stones but originally had forty-seven. It is visible from the road heading from the Hollywood/Ballysize junction to Ballymore Eustace. In the neighbouring townland of Whiteleas a circle of fifteen stones was recorded in 1931. By 1985 it was mostly destroyed and only two pieces of rock remained. Today, no rocks remain.
The Piper Stones
Off the N81, 2km south of Hollywood cross roads are the Piper Stones also known as Athgreany stone circle. It has been disturbed greatly for in 1928, twenty-nine stones were in existence. Whereas today, only sixteen stones remain and of those only five are in situ. There is an outlier to the circle named the Piper Stone. It may have been part of the original site. This stone has two grooves carved on its upper surface at approx right angles to each other dividing it into four quadrants. In three of the quadrants there are cupmark depressions. These cupmarks are a type of rock art. Another example of this may be seen on a boulder beside Box Bridge close to Donard village. A legend says that a group of merry makers were dancing to the piper’s tunes on the sabbath when God turned them all to stone. The outlier is the Piper.
Castleruddery Stone Circle
3.5km south of Donard is Castleruddery stone circle. It consists of twenty-nine boulders with two large quartz stones forming what may have been the entrance. The stone circle shows signs of deliberate destruction with wedge grooves and boreholes in some of the stones. The whole circle was surrounded by an earthen bank which would link it with ceremonial enclosures such as those of the Boyne Valley, Co. Meath.
Boleycarrigeen (The Griddle Stones)
Boleycarrigeen stone circle (also known as The Griddle Stones) lies 1.5km east of Kilranelagh graveyard. It consists of eleven upright stones and similar to Castleruddery circle it was enclosed by an earthen bank. The site is now surrounded by a forestry plantation.
Eoin Grogan and Annaba Kilfeather: Archaeological Inventory of County Wicklow,. Dublin 1977. The Stationery Office, Dublin