'Beltany Tops' : Stone Circle

TownlandBeltany
CountyDonegal
Grid RefC 254 003
Longitude7° 36' 16.29" W
Latitude54° 50' 59.21" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownRaphoe (2.7 Km)
OS Sheet6
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 9th November 2003

What a wonderful site this is. The circle seems to fit snuggly on the top of the hill like a big stone crown. Fantastic!

There are so many stones in this monument that it's hard to count them, but the sign says 64 out of a possible original 100 or so. One of the stones bears cupmarks according to the sign, and I found a few on another stone too. The stones vary in height from 1m to over 2m tall, giving a jaggedness that adds to the crown effect.

The centre of the circle is full of stones to a height of about 1m, making the interior very uneven. Are these the remains of a cairn ?

There is a 1.8m tall outlier just outside the circle to the south and there are two standing stones close by behind the woods to the east.

I broke my digital camera here today. The wind blew my tripod over and yhe camera collided with a big rock. Great start to the day!

A cairn is a large pile of stones, quite often (but not always) containing a burial. Sometimes they have a kerb around the base.

Most cairns are hemi-spherical (like half a football), but the piles of stones used to cover wedge tombs, court tombs and portal tombs are also called cairns. When associated with these types of monument they are not always round, but sometimes rectangular or trapezoidal.

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Sunday, 5th June 2005

After the mishap with my camera on my first visit I have wanted to revisit here for a long time: I do love this place! I had tried to make it here for Beltain, but it just didn't transpire. Not to worry we made it today.

I managed to locate the stone with the cupmarks on its inner face - last time I was looking on the outer faces of the stones - but the sun was shining directly onto them, making it impossible to take a good photo.

As we walked up the narrow, overhung track to the site a couple walked down and while we were there a man and his young daughter arrived. It's great to see other people visiting ancient sites, but I'm glad we had it to ourselves for a while too. One day I'll meet someone at a site without a signpost and get the shock of my life!

Like this monument

Marked Sites

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Stone Circles

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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