Clonfinlough Petroglyph




N 53° 19' 02.4"   W 007° 56' 15.96"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

N 04147 29676

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Tuesday 21 June 2016

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The stone seen from the northwest.

We have returned to this strange stone after 22 years!
Time can modify memories, I remembered a totally different place. In my mind I would saw this stone next to the road, but it isn't. From the road departs a pathway between lines of hedges and trees and after 240 metres there's a stile to a field where the stone is.
It's a large flat stone lying on the ground measuring approximately 3 metres by 2.50 metres and with a thickness of about 70 centimetres. From a geological point of view this is a glacial erratic, that is a rock carried downhill by the expansion of a glacier, and when the ice retreated the stone remained where it was moved last.
The surface of this stone presents dozens of artificial carvings. The highest number of carvings is of cupmarks, thus dating them to the Bronze Age, and they are all gathered in the upper half of the stone. Their size ranges from 2 centimetres to 10 centimetres in diameter.
Other carvings are far more recent. They are mainly grouped in the lower half of the surface and represent crosses. This may suggest that this stone was still popular in Christian times. Near the northwest edge of the stone there is a carved footprint. I remember that when we first saw this stone on July 4th, 1994, we looked at this footprint in awe because we thought that a supernatural force might have impressed such a mark on the stone.
As a matter of fact there's a more earthly explanation for it. This was possibly a site where pilgrims would stop during their pilgrimage to the nearby Clonmacnoise monastic settlement. On their travelling, one of them might have carved this footprint to witness their passage. The footprint measures 23.5 centimetres in length, a small sized foot. It is possible that the footprint and the crosses date to the 14th or 15th century.

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