Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Forgotten stone cross and well on the winter solstice alignment from Newgrange now in SMR

Approaching sunset on June 5th from Redmountain, looking towards Newgrange and Knowth.
Around the time of midsummer this year, I spent many evenings out at Redmountain, the hill on the southern side of the Boyne where the sun rises on winter solstice as it shines into the chamber of Newgrange. I was taking a series of photos of the sunsets behind Newgrange, viewed from the hill of Redmountain, because at midsummer, the setting sun is located opposite where the sun rises at midwinter. I became interested in looking for possible monuments or archaeological features that might be located along the winter solstice alignment. I looked at various maps of the hill to see if there might be any features of interest in the area.

The stone cross and well on an old OS map.
Imagine my surprise when I found, on two versions of old Ordnance Survey maps, a label indicating the presence of a 'stone cross'. And on one of the maps, there was also a 'well' marked beside the stone. These two were located not far from the road that runs down the western slope of Redmountain. Of particular interest was the fact that these features would be located on the winter solstice alignment from Newgrange - i.e. if you stand at the entrance of Newgrange on midwinter and watch the sun rising over Redmountain, you are looking in the direction of these features. I went to the National Monuments Service online map showing records on the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) and found that it was not listed.

In early June, I reported this "find" by email to archaeologist Geraldine Stout of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, whom I know very well. Geraldine said that she hadn't seen this feature before and would refer it to the local contact in Meath, Michael Moore, who works on the Archaeological Survey of Ireland.

Well I'm glad to report that these features have been added to the SMR. However, it seems that upon investigation, sadly there is now no sign of any stone cross or well at this location, and no information available locally about them.
The cross and well are now in the SMR, but sadly there is no evidence of them now.
Here is the new entry in the Sites and Monuments Record:


Class: Cross


Description: Marked only on the 1915 ed. of the OS 6-inch map at a well where it is described in italic lettering as a ‘Stone Cross’. It is situated on a N and W-facing slope on the SE side of a NE-SW field bank that has a drain on its SE side and a large tree at the location. There is no evidence of a cross or a well here and there is no local information available.

Compiled by: Michael Moore

Date of upload: 11 September, 2015

Date of last visit: 31 August 2015

The Stone Cross and Well are within the range of azimuths covered by the Newgrange winter solstice alignment.

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