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KILLYCLUGGUN LA TENE STONE
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The Killycluggin stone is a fragmentary decorated monolith of Iron Age date that was
first brought to general public notice in 1922 (Macalister 1922). At that time the stone
was in the same broken state in which it now appears and was situated some 10m SE of
a stone circle (CV013-026002-). Macalister recorded local traditions which alleged that
the damage to the stone had been carried out in living memory by local farmers in
order to remove an obstruction to agricultural activities. Macalister also stated that
people of the vicinity had dug around the stone in a vain search for buried treasure and
in so doing had apparently destroyed a 'cist burial'. He did not, however, actually see
this 'cist burial'. Some thirty years later a second decorated stone fragment, probably a
portion of the same monolith, was discovered a short distance down-slope from the
main piece. In the early summer of 1974 it was decided to remove the weathered and
overgrown fragments to the National Museum of Ireland. A limited excavation was
undertaken in its immediate vicinity which revealed that 'the stone stood in a flat-
bottomed pit which had been deliberately sunk 80cm into the subsoil to receive it'
(Raftery 1978, 51-2). Immediately E of the stone were two pits one of which may be
identified as the remains of the cist burial identified by Macalister as it contained tiny
fragments of burnt bone (CV013-026003-). The two fragments of the Killycluggin
Stone are on display in the Cavan County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, while a replica
stands at the cross-roads c. 250m NW of the original site.

The following description of the stone is derived from Raftery (1978, 49-51). The main
fragment has been worked to more-or-less cylindrical form on its surviving upper
portion. That part which was intended to be below ground level is rough and irregular
and projects awkwardly in one direction so that the stone as a whole is crudely L-
shaped. The base of the stone slopes obliquely to its vertical axis. The entire upper
surface of this stone had been smashed by deliberate and systematic hammering. This
destruction continued along one side, whereby the ornament, down to the base of the
stone was totally obliterated. The surviving ornament, which comprises combinations
of sweeping curves and tight, hair-spring spirals – classic La Tène motifs – is chiseled
deeply and crisply into the prepared surface of the stone. The curvilinear patterns have
been divided into rectangular panels by straight vertical lines and by horizontal lines at
right angles to them which define the basal extremity of the ornamented area. The
precise original width of only one such panel can now be ascertained (c. 0.9m wide and
0.75m high) but it may be estimated that four such panels of decoration once existed on
the stone giving an original circumference of 3.6m.

The smaller decorated fragment appears to represent a portion of the dome-shaped top
of the original monolith and, in this regard, would have resembled that of the best
known of the Irish aniconic stones, the stele from Turoe, Co. Galway (GA097-152----).
The decoration on this fragment is of two types. Along one edge slight remains of
curvilinear patterns, similar to those on the portion just described, survive. Sufficient
remains to show that the upper limits of this decoration are defined by a straight line
as is the case at the base of the stone, and traces of one of the lines which divide the
ornament into vertical, rectangular panels are present here too. The convex upper
surface of this fragment is decorated by a series of deeply chiseled, parallel lines which
extend across the surface of the stone. The surviving edges of this panel of ornament
are defined by a straight line which is incised at an oblique angle to the line which
forms the boundary to the zones of curvilinear ornament. Thus there occurs what is
now a triangular area, devoid of ornament between the ornament on the apex of the
stone and the ornament on the surviving cylindrical part. The two decorated fragments
do not join so that neither the original height of the stone nor the precise overall
disposition of its ornamentation can now be ascertained. (O’Donovan 1995, no. 93 with
further references)
KILLYCLUGGIN LE TENE STONE, COUNTY CAVAN