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Turoe Stone, County Galway

Engraved stone in La Tène style

The Turoe Stone, located in County Galway in the west of Ireland, is one of the most instantly recognisable examples of ancient art in Ireland. It is the best example, from a select few surviving examples, of a Celtic art style called La Tène.

The Turoe Stone

In fact, it has been hailed as one of the finest examples of La Tène art in Europe, and in its Irish context, the art is assignable to the Iron Age, and specifically the last three centuries Before Christ. Standing 1.68 metres high, the Turoe Stone is highly decorated, with spirals, circles, curves, and other motifs. The patterns are in relief because the stone was skilfully picked back from the surface.

The Turoe Stone
Although the stone is now positioned on the lawn in front of Turoe House in the town of Loughrea, County Galway, George Coffey, in his 1904 paper for the Royal Irish Academy on the subject of La Tène art, said it had been moved in the 1850s from its original location near the Rath of Feerwore, an Iron Age ring-fort structure, at nearby Kiltullagh. Some commentators have said it's surprising the stone survives intact given the beauty of its art. The stone is set in a concrete base and metal grille to prevent grazing cattle using it as a scratch post.
The Turoe Stone
The Turoe Stone
The stone's phallic shape has led some researchers to comment that it could have been related to a fertility cult. Perhaps the stone dates from the Bronze Age or the Neolithic, and was decorated in later times, but this is mere speculation. Other examples of stones with La Tène art include Castlegrange, Co. Roscommon, Killycluggin, Co. Cavan, Mullaghmast, Co. Kildare, and Derrykeighan, Co. Antrim.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Many thanks to Eileen Roche for these wonderful photographs of the Turoe Stone.

FURTHER READING

Kenneth McNally, Standing Stones and other monuments of Early Ireland, Appletree, 1984.
Michael J. O'Kelly, Early Ireland - an Introduction to Irish Prehistory, Cambridge, 1989.
Sean P. O'Riordain, Antiquities of the Irish Countryside, University Paperbacks 1942 (1965).
More books listed here.

RELATED WEB SITES

I found some good pictures of the Turoe Stone at this website, including an up-close look at the art, while Andy Burnham's Megalithic Portal has some information and a good photograph also.


Notice: All pictures are copyright © Eileen Roche. Images may not be copied, reproduced or redistributed without the prior written consent of Eileen Roche.
E-MailRequests for photos to: mythicalireland@eircom.net

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