Beltany, Co. Donegal
Location: In Raphoe town square, take the road that runs beside the Mason's Hall (painted blue) south toward
Castlefinn (signposted). Follow the signposts along N 14 approximately 3 kilometers to Beltany Stone Circle.
Park at the Department of Agriculture Food and Fuel Development Potato Center (honest!) at the base of a purpose-built
paved horsepath. Follow the path up a gentle incline about 400 meters. At the top in the field to the left is the circle.
Dimensions: The stone circle is 44.2m in diameter and contains 64 stones which have an average height of 1.8m,
though there were probably 15-20 more stones originally. These orthostats encircle a low tumulus composed of enough
stones to indicate that it may have been a burial cairn. About 22 meters to the southeast is a solitary standing
stone approximately two meters tall. At the ENE is a triangular slab whose inner face toward the base is decorated
with a number of cupmarks. The site was disturbed at the beginning of the century causing many of the stones,
to lean outward at precarious angles.
Features: The circle features a number of truly monumental stones. One of the stones has quite a number of
cupmarks and several have worn to interesting shapes. The circle is filled with many large stones along with earth and
many stones lay scattered outside the circle as well.
Comments: This is site well worth the trek up the path. Wear boots as the ground is very uneven and if it
is damp at all, your feet will become soaked.
History: This megalithic monument may date from the later Bronze Age, about 1400 to 800 BC The name Beltany
is derived from the spring festival of Beltane which is associated with the lighting of hilltop fires in a rekindling
of the sun. A carved stone head found at this site probably dates from the pre-Christian Iron Age which may indicate
that this site was in use for many centuries after it was built. It has been said that lining up the outlier with
the triangular cupmarked stone may have a solar alignment on a distant hill. When Oliver Davies visited the site in
the late 1930s, he reported that 'The platform had been recently and unscientifically excavated, and had been left
in dreadful confusion'.