independent

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Neolithic find in disused graveyard

The cup-marked stone is the first example found in Co Wexford
The cup-marked stone is the first example found in Co Wexford

Maria Pepper

A stone in a disused graveyard near Castlebridge overlooking the Wexford estuary has turned out to be a rare piece of Neolithic rock that is approximately 5,000 years old.

The stone was spotted by the artist and folklorist Michael Fortune in St. Brigid's Graveyard at Ardtramon, Castlebridge for the first time about four years ago but he did nothing about it until last week when he posted a photo on Facebook and got an immediate response.

'Friends tagged a few archaeologists and one of them who works in the archaeology department of the National Monuments Service got back within an hour or two of the posting to say that it is definitely a cup marked stone and is very important as it is the first example he has seen in Wexford', Michael said.

The archeologist Christiaan Corlett who has written a book called 'Inscribing the Landscape: The Rock Art of South Leinster' described it as a 'fantastic find', said Michael who visited the graveyard in March 2014 while searching for a nearby holy well dedicated to Brigid which was once highly regarded in the community for its healing properties.

Mr. Corlett is now planning to visit Castlebridge to examine the stone while the magazine Archaeology Ireland plans to feature photographs and an article written by Michael about his discovery.

Michael had gone to St. Brigid's to look at a stone water font but something else caught his eye that day- a very unusual carved rock which appeared to be covered in hand made cup marks or circular dots. He had seen the same typo of prehistoric decoration before and was excited to think it might be the genuine article. 'No-one I spoke to over the years could tell me about it and I couldn't find any reference to it on any old maps from the area', he said. Cup marked stones are ancient carvings or a form of prehistoric art found in many parts of Europe which have intrigued researchers for a long time with many different theories being offered for their existence.

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