Sunday 24 February 2013
The Motte Stone Co Wicklow
the stone in the distance
We were returning from Wexford one evening in September when I remembered this strange stone was in the area. Although there was still plenty of daylight, the sky was becoming increasingly cloudy, but we decided to detour a little just to have a look at this oddity.
The Motte Stone as it is referred to sits on top of Croneblane Ridge 800 feet above sea level and overlooks the vale of Avoca. It is a huge quartzite boulder that appears to have been deposited on the ridge by a receding glacier during the last ice age (Circa 13000BC). It measures about 9 feet in diameter and roughly the same in height. All sorts of legends surround this stone ranging from it being a giant's hurling stone (Finn McCumhail, the legendary Irish giant) to being a sacred stone. Some people have claimed to have seen light surrounding it, although it being formed of quartzite and with its prominent height it could be that it is reflective. Another legend is that any person putting a question to it will receive an answer!
Truthfully it is very mysterious and there is evidence it was once incorporated into a Motte and Bailey structure for defence hence giving it it's name. This ancient structure has long since disappeared but the stone still remains proud. With all of these tales why wouldn't you want to have a closer look.
By the time we were in the vicinity the cloud had thickened and a misty drizzle began but we were not deterred. Sadly with these conditions we were unlikely to gaze at the view of five counties that can be had on a clear day, but no mind the mist would only add to the overall mystery of the stone.
We had to take a few turns through country back roads until we found the narrow isolated lane that led to the site. A few years ago the local authority had provided a car park for visitors but due to some issues with rubbish dumping and the actual defacing of the stone with paint it was finally closed. Now you have to park on the somewhat muddy lane and trek through the overgrown car park before you reach the short trail to the summit. It is not a long walk, perhaps 8-10 minutes and not very steep either but all the time you have the stone in view getting larger as you approach.
The mist was really coming down at this point but having made the decision to continue we were determined to reach the stone. Finally on arrival at the summit you will find it all worthwhile as this is truly an amazing curiosity. It is amazing to think that this stone has stood here throughout history long before any people had migrated to this country around 7000BC. Awe inspiring.
On the summit the stone stands tall overlooking an area strewn with smaller rocks, no doubt other debris left by the glacier. A set of metal bars have been hammered into it on one side to provide a rudimentary ladder enabling you to climb up on top of it. On doing so we were surprised to find a cup shaped indent carved out of the top to collect rainwater which if legend has it that this was a sacred stone then the water would have been dispensed for healing purposes. This in effect makes The Motte Stone probably the largest Bullaun stone in the country. Even in the mist it was evident that this held a significant view and it is not surprising that a fort had been built around it in the past.
We spent a little more time there until the misty rain became heavier so it was time to leave, but we will definitely return here on a clearer day.
To find The Motte Stone head south on the M11/N11 Dublin to Wexford road and after Wicklow watch out for "The Tap" Pub on your right. A short distance later there is a turn onto the R754 beside another pub called "Lil Doyles" Take this right turn which leads to the village of Redcross. On the main street you will see a right hand turn pointing towards Avoca. Follow this road which extends uphill until you come to a five way junction. One of the roads on your right has a sign pointing the way to the Motte Stone. Turn down this road and continue until you come to a small crossroads with another sign for the Stone pointing left. Down this narrow left turn you will pass Conary Church and then you will reach a fork in the road. Take the right hand narrower fork and drive until you spot the abandoned car park on your left. You will see the Motte Stone in the distance. You can park here by the roadside but leave room for anyone who might need to pass. Access to the old car park can be found through a small gap in the brushy overgrowth.
RETURN VISIT APRIL 2015
As promised we made a return here on a much more clearer day and what magnificent views from the stone's vantage point as you can see from above. Really, really worth your time on a sunny day to spend the few minutes it takes to walk up to this curiosity.