Ne­olithic find in dis­used grave­yard

Wexford People - - NEWS - By MARIA PEP­PER

A stone in a dis­used grave­yard near Castle­bridge over­look­ing the Wex­ford es­tu­ary has turned out to be a rare piece of Ne­olithic rock that is ap­prox­i­mately 5,000 years old.

The stone was spot­ted by the artist and folk­lorist Michael For­tune in St. Brigid’s Grave­yard at Ard­tra­mon, Castle­bridge for the first time about four years ago but he did noth­ing about it un­til last week when he posted a photo on Face­book and got an im­me­di­ate re­sponse.

‘Friends tagged a few ar­chae­ol­o­gists and one of them who works in the ar­chae­ol­ogy depart­ment of the Na­tional Mon­u­ments Ser­vice got back within an hour or two of the post­ing to say that it is def­i­nitely a cup marked stone and is very im­por­tant as it is the first ex­am­ple he has seen in Wex­ford’, Michael said.

The arche­ol­o­gist Chris­ti­aan Cor­lett who has writ­ten a book called ‘In­scrib­ing the Land­scape: The Rock Art of South Le­in­ster’ de­scribed it as a ‘fan­tas­tic find’, said Michael who vis­ited the grave­yard in March 2014 while search­ing for a nearby holy well ded­i­cated to Brigid which was once highly re­garded in the com­mu­nity for its heal­ing prop­er­ties.

Mr. Cor­lett is now plan­ning to visit Castle­bridge to ex­am­ine the stone while the magazine Ar­chae­ol­ogy Ire­land plans to fea­ture pho­to­graphs and an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Michael about his dis­cov­ery.

Michael had gone to St. Brigid’s to look at a stone water font but some­thing else caught his eye that day- a very un­usual carved rock which ap­peared to be cov­ered in hand made cup marks or cir­cu­lar dots. He had seen the same typo of pre­his­toric dec­o­ra­tion be­fore and was ex­cited to think it might be the gen­uine ar­ti­cle. ‘No-one I spoke to over the years could tell me about it and I couldn’t find any ref­er­ence to it on any old maps from the area’, he said. Cup marked stones are an­cient carv­ings or a form of pre­his­toric art found in many parts of Europe which have in­trigued re­searchers for a long time with many dif­fer­ent the­o­ries be­ing of­fered for their ex­is­tence.

The cup-marked stone is the first ex­am­ple found in Co Wex­ford.

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