'St. Manchan's' : Bullaun Stone

TownlandLemanaghan
CountyOffaly
Grid RefN 172 269
GPSN 17231 26930 (9m)
Longitude7° 44' 29.66" W
Latitude53° 17' 32.68" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownMoate (11.6 Km)
OS Sheet48
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This is a subsite of:

St. Manchan's - Lemanaghan - Church
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 20th June 2004

An ancient trackway, paved with huge blocks of stone, leads around the south of St. Mach?n's church. Following this takes you to some other monuments associated with the 7th century monastary.

The first of these is a bullaun stone which sits outside the entrance to the holy well. It is a large flat-topped stone, with an irregular, rounded outline. The single bullaun is quite massive measuring about 45cm across.

I am not sure where this was found, but apparently when it was discovered it was surrounded by crushed iron ore indicating that it may have been used in the preparation stages of iron smelting.

The original purpose of bullan stones is not really known, but they have an undisputable association with water and Brigid worship. A 'bullaun' is a deep hemispherical cup hollowed out of a rock. Bullaun Stone refers to the rock itself, which can have many bullauns in it, although many are single.

It is generally thought that they date from the Bronze Age, but I personally believe there is a much old provenance to them and that there is a relationship to prehistoric rock art, for a good example of this see Glassamucky Mountain (County Dublin).

Ritual use of some bullaun stones has continued well into the Christian period and many are found in association with early churches (The Deer Stone (Glendalough D) (County Wicklow) is just one of many at Glendalough (County Wicklow)) and holy wells. Their presence at so many early Christian sites, to me, places them as being of massive importance to the pre-Christian inhabitants of Ireland and something the church was very eager to assimilate.

The beautiful example at St Brigit's Stone (County Cavan) still has its 'cure' or 'curse' stones. These would be used to by a visitor turning them whilst praying for (or cursing) someboby.

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A Selection of Other Bullaun Stones

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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