• Rising equinox sun at the Gossan Stones in the Wicklow Mountains

    It is that time of the year again in Ireland – the autumnal equinox, when day and night are of equal length and we are half way between the longest and shortest days of the year (roll on the spring equinox when it’s the other way round).

    Back in 2006 I described in the pages of Archaeology Ireland, an account of the discovery of a pair of standing stones which I believe were erected to celebrate the rising sun on the autumnal and spring equinoxes. The stones in questions are located in Paddock Hill above the Glenmacnass Valley, not far from Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. The stones are set 1.75m apart (on a N-S axis), and stand little more than 1m high. I have seen more monumental gateposts in some of the nearby fields. They are commonly known as the Gossan Stones, a name that may derive from the Hiberno-English slang word ‘gossoon’ commonly used around the country to describe young boys or lads, a term that quite well describes the two stones.

    Since I first saw these stones I thought they must have some alignment rising sun within the U-shaped defile of the Devil’s Glen immediately to the east, and framed perfectly by the two standing stones.

    I was able to confirm this in September 2005. However, I always felt that the photographs that were published at the time didn’t fully convey the dramatic effect of the sun rising above the sea and framed within the Devil’s Glen. So, for those of you who don’t feel like getting up before the crack of dawn and making the climb up to the top of Paddock Hill, you can still have some idea of the equinox sun rise as seen from the Gossan Stones.

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