Emerald Isle

Beaghmore Stone Circles

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Legendary Places in Ireland

A strange and distant place

Ireland is a land of many treasures – some are well known while others are known only to a few, like the mysterious stone circles of Beaghmore! In the north of County Tyrone they can be found, at the edge of the Sperrin mountains looking out over the wide countryside below, dating back to the bronze age and earlier, to the time when the Tuatha Dé Danann walked the green hills and misty vales of Eriú.

Before the seven stone circles were raised the locality was farmed by Neolithic tribes, perhaps the Fomors or Fir Bolg, and before them it was a birch forest, from whence it draws its name – an Bheitheach Mhór, meaning the big moor of birches.

These ancient monuments were discovered by accident when two farmers were cutting peat in the area in the 1930s, and excavations turned up all kinds of artifacts, such as hearthstones upon which the fires of the old people burned, flint tools, a polished porcellanite axe from county Antrim, some four days travel away, and other items.

Six of the stone circles are paired and may have been associated with earlier burial cairns, while ten odd jagged stone rows radiate from the circles in a northeasterly direction. These are arranged in an uneven fashion, with high stone rows beside with much lower and more numerous stone rows.

As with many stone circles, some parts of the Beaghmore circles are astronomically linked with dawn and dusk on the solstices, but unusually, for the most part, the overall alignment is more closely connected to the phases of the moon. There are only two other sites which are known to be similarly aligned, one in Cork and the other in Scotland, so Beaghmore forms part of a different and perhaps even older tradition than the cross quarter celebrations.

Night time is truly magical amid the Beaghmore stones, due to the remoteness and altitude of the site, the sky is darker here than almost anywhere else in the country, and it was under silverine moonlight that rituals were conducted here of old. The purpose of these rites is not known today, but the seventh circle might give some hint, the one known as the Dragon's Teeth.

For within the eight hundred stones of this seventh circle, seven being a number associated with the lunar cycle, were discovered the remains of several children of great antiquity, and some visitors have reported hearing the voices of children, or even the touch of child's hand on their own as they made a hasty departure!

Across from the seventh circle stand three more stones arranged as doorway and local legend has it that lights and voices can be heard drifting through it on certain nights of the year, and if you were to pass through this structure, you might find yourself somewhere very strange indeed!

The Beaghmore stone circles are marked on the map below.

Legendary Places in Ireland

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