Celebrating Ulster's Townlands

 

 

Signpost: Townlands

  16. Stone in Place Names

Megalithic tomb or Cloghogle at Ballyrenan, Tyrone: EHS

Megalithic tomb or Cloughastucan at Ballyrenan, Tyrone: EHS

Logo: Townlands

Moving from natural history to a natural material,  Stone seems  so often to signify what humans have built with it that the various meanings will be considered together.

Cloch is the basic word meaning “stone”. Large natural boulders are deliberately erected standing stones are both often called Cloughmore “big stone” and there are also a number of Cloughfins meaning “white stone”. Cloghastucan, “stone of the stack”, a natural stone pillar on the Antrim coast at Garron Point, was used in the 17th century as a measure of the length of Ireland. 

 

Megalithic stone tombs are often called Cloghogle or Cloghtogle from cloch thógala “lifted stone”, the name of townlands in Fermanagh and Tyrone. A townland in Co. Antrim in the parish of Skerry containing a megalithic tomb is called Ticloy from the tomb within it, now known by the translation “the stone house” The monument called the Giant’s Ring near Belfast is in Ballynahatty “townland of the site of a house”, which may refer to the tomb in the middle.

Megalithic tomb of Ticloy townland, Co. Antrim: KM

Megalithic tomb of Ticloy townland, Co. Antrim: KM

 

 

In both Counties Down and Antrim there are Norman castles at places called Clough, so that “stone building” is clearly the meaning. Clogher is another place-name which means something to do with or made of stone. In the case of Clogher in Co. Tyrone it must refer to stone building at the royal ring-fort or cathedral. No early stonework is visible today, but archaeologists found a building which had already tumbled into rubble by the 5th century AD.

Cloghastukan Co. Antrim: painting by J.M. Nicholl UM

Cloghastukan Co. Antrim: painting by J.M. Nicholl UM

 

Megalithic tomb at the Giant's Ring, Ballynahatty townland, Co. Down: EHS

 

 

Hillfort of Clogher, Co. Tyrone: EHS

Hillfort of Clogher, Co. Tyrone: EHS

Clough Castle, Co. Antrim: EHS

Clough Castle, Co. Antrim: EHS

 

Creag also means “rock” and the derivative Creggan means “little rock” or “rocky place”. However, in the Tyrone townland Creggandevesky “stony place of black water” it is clear that the name is derived from a chambered tomb within their bounds. The townland of Carrickbroad in south Armagh, originally anglicised Carrigbradagh, meant “rock of the robbers”. However, this is the site of the castle guarding the Moiry Pass “between Dundalk and Newry, and it is likely that the name refers to an older castle. In the Co. Antrim name Carrickfergus, “Fergus’ Rock”, “rock” also refers to the castle. 

Creggandevesky Court tomb, Co. Tyrone: EHS

Creggandevesky Court tomb, Co. Tyrone: EHS

  Another word for a standing stone is coirthe, as in the townland of Drumnahare “ridge of the standing stone” by Lough Brickland and Tamnaharry “field of the standing stone” in the south of Co. Down. Trillick Trileac “three stones” is another term for a chambered tomb. Trillick in Co. Tyrone is named from an example now ruined beside Trillick Castle. Crookedstone in Co. Antrim was named from a stone  long ago removed to build a bridge. Its Irish name was cloch ime "butter stone", like the boulder near Strangford Lough. 

Standing stone at Drumnahare townland by Lough Brickland, Co. Down: Welch UM

Standing stone at Drumnahare townland by Lough Brickland, Co. Down: Welch UM

 

Castle of Carrigbroad 1609: Escheated County map of Orior, Co. Armagh: PRONI

Castle of Carrigbroad 1609: Escheated County map of Orior, Co. Armagh: PRONI

Butterlump stone, Strangford Lough Co. Down: W.A. Green UFTM

Butterlump stone, Strangford Lough Co. Down: W.A. Green UFTM

 

Crookedstone sign near Aldergrove airport, Co. Antrim KM

Crookedstone sign near Aldergrove airport, Co. Antrim KM

 

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