|Derrynablaha 6 - Rock Art|
On the way home from Staigue Fort (County Kerry) I decided to have another go at finding the particularly fine rock art that Anthony Weir has on his web site. So, I found myself looking up the steep mountainside from the road, once again, at a lot of rocks scattered about. With the directions fresh in my head I followed the south branch of the stream for around 700m, but still couldn't see the table-like rock. Surely something this obvious must be, well, obvious!
After about 15 minutes of looking I finally came across it. The front face is covered in a thick sheet of moss now and so doesn't really look like a stone at all until you're very close.
The carvings appear on the upper surface, which is on two levels. Both upwards facing panels are carved. By this time it was raining heavily and so the view east to Lough Brin and the mountain pass above it was non-existant - I could just about make out the lough, but nothing more.
With only dull ambient light the carvings are hard to see clearly, but by getting down almost level with them and looking across the top of the carved surfaces what is there comes to life. Although quite heavily eroded the peck marks, where the tool used chipped away the patterns struck the rock, can still be made out.
Next to the main slab, at its west end, is an upright slab with a very faint carving on it. If Anthony Weir's site hadn't told of it I doubt I would have even noticed it. This carving is of a very rare format in Ireland. It features a cup surrounded by a ring, around which there is a circle of cups, which are in turn surrounded by another ring. This design is is slightly more common in British rock art.
The carvings on the main surfaces include cup and ring motifs with up to 5 rings. The views from here are, as you would expect from 240m above sea level on the side of a mountain, spectacular - even in heavy rain. At places like this you start to ponder the meaning and purpose of rock art: it could so easily be the doodlings of somebody just sitting here admiring the views and perhaps watching the equinox sunrise through the mountain pass on the other side of the valley.
On the way back down to the car I tried once more to find the other two pieces of rock art on this bit of slope, but with no luck. This means I will be back another day and I don't mind that one bit.
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You can't bring someone to Derrynablaha for the first time and not climb up to this panel! What a wondrous location! What a great panel.
This visit also gave me the opportunity to try and take some side-flash photos of the site (hopefully in good weather!). Both issues were nearly realised - the weather started to turn nasty and my photos of the main panel aren't as good as I'd hoped. I did manage to light up the rosette panel quite nicely, though.
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.