Moyne : Bullaun Stone

CountyLaois
Grid RefS 399 795
GPSS 39896 79524 (5m)
Longitude7° 24' 27.13" W
Latitude52° 51' 54.72" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDurrow (2.3 Km)
OS Sheet60
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 17th February 2008

This bullaun stone is a large block of limestone with two massive bullauns/basins and a third smaller one. At 30cm in diameter the smaller one would be described as large if it was alone, but the others are each over 40cm across!

To the south of this stone there is another large outcrop of limestone, which reminds you that a great deal of Ireland sits on limestone and The Burren in Clare doesn't have a monopoly on it.

The stone is in the middle of flat, open landscaped pasture in front of a large country house, which is a most unusual place to visit such a monument: you keep expecting the lord of the manor to ride up at any moment on a thoroughbred horse and greet you. I knew this wasn't going to happen, though, as I'd met him a few minutes before and got directions from him.

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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