Rathmichael : Bullaun Stone

Grid RefO 239 219
GPSO 23894 21924
Longitude6° 8' 39.58" W
Latitude53° 13' 59.74" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBray (3.8 Km)
OS Sheet50
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This is a subsite of:

Rathmichael Church - Round Tower
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 11th September 2005

As many of you will know I have been looking for this bullaun stone for quite some time and at last I've done so. I couldn't have done it without the help of without the help of a megalithomania visitor who was shown the stone by somebody and then mailed me with the info. Now, at last, this stone can be recorded along with all the other sites on megalithomania!

The single bullaun lies in the centre of a large, flat-topped earthfast boulder that measures at least 1.5m across. I can't say how big it is exactly because I could not find any of the edges. This is due to the density of the undergrowth that surrounds and threatens to bury the slab, the upper surface of which is at ground level. The 15cm diameter bullaun is not hemi-spherical, but very uneven.

It's a tricky one to find, but it is really great to know it is still there. Finding it has made my month and we're not even half way through it!

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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Marked Sites


Follow the directions to Rathmichael church and round tower and park at the church. Walk back down the track to the gateway on the left. On the corner of this entrance furthest from the church is a large tree. The bullaun stone is in the hhedge directly opposite this tree, just 1.5m from the edge of the track. Good luck!

Random Gazetteer

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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