Enigmatic, mystic and magical at the same time are these stony legacies of the Celts, which can be found in many places in Ireland. There are various theories about, what purpose the stones were erected for the first time. They probably served for ritual ceremonies, funerals and astronomical observations. A distinction is made between singly erected stones (menhirs) and stone settings like stone circles or stones arranged in a line, so called stone rows.
Menhirs and ogham stones
Ogham stones are an Irish special feature of singly standing stones. Ogham is a writing system of various straight lines and notches. These were engraved on the edges of the upright standing stones in order to attach names and short texts. The inscriptions are so to speak the oldest records in Irish language. The singly standing menhirs probably conduced to point out grave sites, mark boarders or perpetuate important persons´ memory.
Stones erected in pairs or in a row often point to a hilltop or a gap between two hills. This provides the presumption that these stones indicate calendric constellations, in which the sun or the moon rises at this very place. Often these were the summer solstice and the winter solstice, which marked important points in the Celtic course of the year.
All stone circles show identical characteristics. As they always consist of an odd number of freestanding stones. The largest stones of the circle form the entrance to the inside. The lowermost stone was erected opposite to them. Often the entrance stones and the opposite stone form a line, which is orientated towards the sun, the moon or particular stars. Probably stone circles were built to practice rituals and ceremonies.