Rathgeran Rock Art Stone

Rathgeran Rock Art Stone

On the beautiful Blackstairs Mountain beside Mount Leinster in Rathgeran townland, Co. Carlow is Rathgeran Rock Art Stone. Moreover, this stone (one of three in Rathgeran) is the finest example of early prehistoric rock art in south Leinster. Also, it is one of the finest in Ireland.

However, this stone is very hard to find on the Mountain and difficult to see in the bushes and wild ferns. The Stone is up the side of a Mountain with no signs or directions. Because the owners of the ground on which it lies don’t want anyone to visit their land.

It is situated on a north-facing slope of a hillside. In an area of rocky, unclaimed ground, with fine views northwards towards Knockscur, Tomduff, Mount Leinster, and Knockroe. There is also a commanding view overlooking Knockmore Hill, where the location of another rock art site is clearly visible.

The carvings have been applied onto a slightly pitched granite boulder. The decoration consists of a series of large multiple circles. So up to eight circles in two instances – enclosing shallow cup marks. The use of cups and multiple rings is not in itself unusual. But what is most striking about The Rathgeran Stone is the precision of the closely set circles. Source: christiaancorlett.com/rock-art-in-carlow

This has to be amongst the best rock art in Ireland.

The nine circles carved on the stone it is over 4.5 thousand years since it was carved. So they are older than the pyramids in Egypt. The Stone circles and cup marks are also called Spirals. Then, on the upper surface, there are two sets of concentric rings (7 & 8 rings). And the center cutmarks of which are joined by a gutter. To the east of these is a 7-turn spiral. Below them is a 6 six-ring concentric motif also with a gutter (gutters are very rare in Ireland). And to the west of which is a faint 6-turn spiral. There are two significantly eroded spirals or concentric rings above this last spiral.

Below are photos by Paul O’Neill (October 2018)

Location on a map:

Rathgeran Rock Art Stone on a map
Rathgeran Rock Art Stone on a map


Blogger. Volunteer. Enthusiast of photography, nature, architecture, and cultural events. Since 2014 living in County Carlow in Ireland.

One thought on “Rathgeran Rock Art Stone”

  1. Hi Malgorzata. Liked your site, it helped me tailor my itinerary for a visit to Ireland this summer. My Great-great-grandmother was from Killala, Co Mayo. I was hoping to add a visit to the Rathgeran Rock Art Stone and from your and Christiaan Corlett sites I have a pretty good idea of where its located, My question is how to drive closest and hike. Did you do it from the R702 or from the south road leaving Ballymurphey? Do you think a 70-years of couple could find the stone?

    Thanks for any help.

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