The Glendalough House grounds include some of the oldest known archaeological finds in Ireland. More commonly known within the archaeological circles as "Rock Art", these curios stones consist of unassuming granite boulders covered in cup marks. At least five such stones are known to exist in the Drummin Valley above the House and, as a collection, form one of the most important of its type in County Wicklow.
With the aid of some low winter sunlight, the cup marks on these stones become most obvious. Under any other condition they are hardly noticeable and can be easily missed or passed by. For this reason, the find and its significance has gone unnoticed until more recently. Several others are also known in the wider area, at Carrigeenshinnagh and Carrigeenduff, nearer Lough Dan, but the largest collection is concentrated in the townland of Drummin, most of which are found on the Glendalough House estate grounds.
The stones date to the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, era meaning that they are well over 5000 years old (dating back to 3000 BC).
The term "Rock Art" simply refers to the fact that this type of art is found on rock outcrop in the open landscape and do not appear to have formed part of any larger monument(s). The term "Art", however, may be a little misleading, for while the stones are decorative, they were most likely also symbolic. Unfortunately, the meaning of the cup marks and other symbols sometimes found on these stones is not easily understood.
Also found on the Glendalough House grounds are stones known to archaeologists as "Bullaun Stones". Typically, these are granite boulders with large bowls carved into them. In front of the original front door and in a corner of the Main Lawn of Glendalough House itself lie several examples of Bullaun Stones, the largest of which was brought to the House from an ancient church site at Ashtown, Roundwood by a former owner, Robert Barton. Barton also brought a second stone, placed at the front door, from somewhere upon the slopes of Scarr Mountain. It seems most likely that the bowls in these stones were intended to be used as mortars for grinding, but precisely what was being ground is unknown.
In the valley above and outside the Glendalough House front door lie large bowl-carved granite blocks.
The date of these stones remains elusive. The fact that Bullaun Stones are sometimes associated with early Christian ecclesiastical foundations, such as Ashtown, Derrylossary and Glendalough, would suggest that at least some of the stones are between 1000 and 1500 years old. However, it seems quite likely that some Bullaun Stones are in fact much older and may even be contemporary with the cup marked stones found in the area.
Visiting the Stones
Viewing the stones can be organised either by contacting us - see the Glendalough House Contact details provided on this page - or via Glendalough House Photowalks, an organised series of walked up photographic opportunities, regularly photographing many aspects of the estate.