This is no ordinary, everyday standing stone. I was not sure whether to call is a cross or rock art. It isn't rock art as such though because the carvings have been dated to around 700CE.
The standing stone itself is quite elegant in form and would by its own merits be very worth a visit. However, what makes this so amazing is the Christianisation (in the extreme) of this stone.
The stone is inscribed with a message attributing the carvings to Ternohc, Son Of Ceran who is known to have died in 714CE. This makes this stone the earliest datable stone in Ireland.
The rest of the carving though is stunning. On the front, below the inscription, there is a large encircled cross and there is a large plain cross above it.
Down the rear there are in excess of 10 smaller encicled crosses and what would appear to be Ogham script. The ogham though has been damaged, perhaps at the time of the Christian carvings.
I sat for half an hour on a rock just 4m in front of this megalithic/christian wonder and stared at it in something between awe and admiration. I can close my eyes now and see this 2.1m tall stone before me and I think I always shall be able to.
To finish a glorious day - a visit to a glorious monument. With the cloud and rain having gone I was able to se Slieve Gullion from here. I had no idea that it dominated this place.
I stayed here for a while, had a chat with the land owner and had some food and a drink. Once again I sat on the stone in the centre of the enclosure and relaxed while reflecting upon the days sites. As you would expect my eyes kept returning to the beautifully carved stone. The diesigns may be simplistic, but the person that carved them really did have an appreciation of stone - this pillar in particular.
It was time to head home. I decided I needed my own bed rather than a B&B. We couldn't just head straight home so I suggested stopping off here. It's just such a fabulous monument.
It has recenly been cleaned and looks good, but I can't help feeling sorry for those lichen colonies that had been growing on the stone for who knows how long.
From Newry head south along the A1. Turn right to Jonesborough where you take the second right and then sharp left continue for 2km until you see a sign directing you across the fields to the stone.
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.