We have a friend who has spent 37 years of his life as a local forester. An interesting man, whose heart and soul is immersed in the wildlife of our local mountains and in the artifacts that remain from ancient people that once inhabited the Slieve Blooms.
During the winter of last year, while he was surveying an area of forest that was to be felled, he discovered a large stone which he later described to me as having a pattern on it that looked as if it had been carved using baked bean cans. I recognized from his description that this might be 'cup & ring marks' and asked him to preserve the area.
Now as eager as we were to visit the site the weather in November was not on our side and so we waited until springtime with it's drier and warmer conditions. Our walk across the clear felled area was tough going and we were very glad to be wearing waterproof boots and wind proof clothing. We were absolutely delighted with the find and such a rarity too. In fact we made another trip to the boulder with some interested friends and with their help we managed to tip it up on its side and photograph the other face.
The boulder is sandstone and judging by its rounded edges it was once shaped by the action of water though that is quite common for the majority of loose stone found in this area. The geology of the Slieve Blooms includes Old Red Sandstone, laid down 370 millions years ago, which underlies much of the mountains. Under the sandstone lies the blue-grey rocks of the Silurian period.
My personal feelings are that it may have been a rear stone from a Bronze Age burial chamber, as the landscape of this country once contained thousands of such buildings; some of which were destroyed by agriculture and the forestry industry. The carvings are not like any of the cup and ring marks depicted on other stones; although there is a stone at Tara which has one similar pattern, that of three linked circles. There is no way of knowing what the carver had in mind. Both faces of the stone are carved and there are slight markings on the sides too.