I was drawn primarily to this place because it over looks my house and is the nearest part of the Wicklow Mountains. On the skyline you can make out 3 protrusions which have intrigued me since I moved here. Through binoculars you can clearly see that they are piles of stones. So, me being me, off I go. Upon reaching the top you are presented with the most glorious granite tors, weather beaten and fracture to resemble huge brains. I cannot help but think that this must have been a holy site to the people of this region and may even have been the source of much building material. The views are sublime and looking down on my house I was returned to the perspective of humanity being a tiny speck on the face of this planet.
This was the main target of my trip today and the hail nearly made me turn back, but I was so close I couldn't bring myself to do so. I wanted to take a look at the top of the central tor as I'd recently read about some bullauns in its upper surface.
They are there and I think they are natural, but two of them may have been 'improved'. I was very interested to see a line of long, narrow cupmarks next to them and another single one in a nearby surface. These are the same as the ones that can be found at The Piper's Stones (County Wicklow), Castleruddery Lower (County Wicklow), Glassamucky Mountain (County Dublin), Brewell's Hill stone circle in Kildare and many other sites around the northwest Wicklow Mountains.
I was surprised to see two other people up here taking photographs. I didn't get chance to speak to one of them, but did get into a good conversation with Rob, who kindly gave me a lift round to my car. Cheers!
Mr. G. V. Du Noyer said in a memoire (pub 1835 by the Geological Society of Ireland)
- "The remarkable-looking bosses of granite on the summits of the Three Rock and Two Rock Mountains are not perched blocks, but the solid granite weathering in places; and this weathering is solely the result of long-continued atmospheric action - rain, frost, and snow. The rock being evenly jointed in vertical as well as horizontal planes, has weathered on the line of separation; and some of the rough cubical masses thus formed have resisted the action of the weather more completely than the others. In this way are left those great table-like masses, having their edges moulded along the horizontal joints."
Then in 1780 Gabriel Beranger wrote
- "This mountain has on its summit three huge heaps of rock, piled one on another, and seen at some miles distance, from which the mountain takes its name. I take them to be altars on which sacrifices were offered. The plate [a sketch made by Beranger of the group of rocks visible from Dublin] represents one of the most entire; it rises about 18 feet above the ground, and is accessible by an easy ascent. It has several basins cut in the rock on its top, of the size of the inside of a man's hat; but one more remarkable than the rest, being of an oval form, and measures 2 feet 6 inches in length by 2 feet broad, the depth in the centre, 9 inches. Another of these, but less entire, is at some distance. I have copied every stone as they are fixed, and the regularity which is observed in piling them convinces me that they are the work of man, as they could not grow in that position. The sea is seen, though more than 6 miles off. The extensive summit of this mountain, the parched ground and its solitude, make it the most awful spot I had ever seen."
Sir William and Lady Wilde published the Memoirs of Beranger and on p.170 in an introductory reference to the foregoing account refer to the Three Rocks as "a Druid monument on the Three-rock Mountain", despite having access to the earlier scientific and correct assessment
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.