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This group of stone circles, to me, are among the finest in Ireland. Standing on bleak moorland in the Sperrins of Co Tyrone, these seven stone circles seem to invite you in, and then ‘pull’ you to a favourite one. There is no getting away from the atmosphere of the place. The stone circles are attributed to the earlier part of the Bronze Age c. 2,000-1,200 BC. It is possible that the full extent of the complex has not yet been revealed and further stones and cairns may still lie hidden in the adjacent peat.
Beaghmore is from an Bheitheach Mhór, meaning “big place of birch trees”; reflecting that the area was woodland before being cleared by Neolithic farmers. The site was hidden by peat until its (re) discovery in the early 1940s during peat cutting, when 1,269 stones were uncovered. There are seven low stone circles of different sizes, six of which are paired, twelve cairns and ten stone rows. The singular circle is distinguished from the paired circles by its slightly larger stones and has an interior filled over 800 small stones, known as “the dragon’s teeth”.
Beaghmore structures invite explanation and wonder. Why were so much land, time and energy devoted to them? The answer is unclear, and invites you to visit here and to speculate on their purpose. The site could mark a focal point for religious and/or social gatherings. Some archaeologists believe that the circles have been constructed in relation to the rising of the sun at the solstice, or to record the movements of the sun and moon acting as observatories for particular lunar, solar or stellar events. Three of the stone rows point to the sunrise at the time of the solstice and another is aligned towards moonrise at the same period. However, most of the remains at Beaghmore do not indicate very accurate alignments upon specific astronomical features. Is it possible that the circles were used to enable other world journeying? Is there an alignment with other planets or galaxies?
The combination of circles and tangential alignments is matched at various other sites in Co. Tyrone. George Barnett, the discoverer of Beaghmore, thought that the site was a lunar observatory for calendrical calculations.
As you arrive and stand at the entrance, you can feel ‘pulled’ to certain circles or alignments. Step inside the circles and walk out again, and it’s possible to feel the energies within them. Walk between a pair of circles, and you can have a sensation of one circle going anti-clockwise, the other, clockwise. Each circle seems to have a distinct and different energy. Maybe each circle had a very different purpose?
So this is a place of mystery, it is also a powerful place with powerful energies. Come and find your favourite circle or standing stone. Come and feel the energies, and the connection to the land and place of our ancestors.
Other references of interest