This is one lovely stone located in a lovely spot. The curvey, wave-shaped stone stands on top of a rocky outcrop, currently hidden behind some gorse bushes. The most famous pictures of this show it from the bottom of the outcrop, standing proud with nothing but sky behind it. This angle was not possible at the time of this visit.
The problem with the 'famous' angle is that it makes the stone look much bigger than its 1.3m height.
Obviously, as you can tell from its name, this stone has a hole drilled through it, which is much worn. The hole is about 5cm in diameter at its narrowest and situated around waist height in the stone - I shall say no more.
It is associated with marriages, where the bride and groom would hold hands through the hole during the ceremony.
No trip to south Antrim with a bit of spare time would seem natural without a trip to see this glorious stone. It definitely ranks among the most touchy-feely stones in Ireland!
I hadn't realised that the top of the rocky outcrop that it stands upon is actually so inaccessible. I had forgotten that the only way up to the stone was to climb some rough rock-cut steps. The outcrop forms a natural plateau and it's perfect for carrying out marriages on, allowing the attendees to stand around its base and watch.
This made me think of one other thing - was this site ever a Royal Inauguration site?
Sadly the gorse hasn't been seen to and now obscures the stone from below even more than it did when I first came here. The hole is aligned northeast-southwest, but the gorse bushes mean it will be impossible to observe if the beam of light caused by the rising Summer Solstice sun shining through the hole falls on anything significant.
From antrim take the B95 west and pass beneath the motorway until you reach Parkgate. 150m after passing the church in Parkgate turn left and follwo the road around until you reach the B59. Turn left and head north for just over 1km and turn right. The stone is signposted on the right hand side of the road after 500m.
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.