The Drombeg Stone Circle which is also known as ‘The Druid’s Altar’ is a recumbent stone circle consisting of 17 (of which only 13 remain) closely spaced stones situated near the village of Glandore. The circle is located on the edge of a rocky outcrop and has good views over the sea. Of all the megalithic sites in Ireland, Drombeg is the most visited. A layer of gravel has been laid to protect the site from the high volume of visitors to it.
The Drombeg Stone Circle is flanked by a pair of 1.8m high axial portal stones, which provide a south-west axis and orientate Drombeg in the direction of the setting sun during the midwinter solstice.
In 1958 the site was excavated and restored. During excavation a pot was found buried in the centre of the circle containing the cremated remains of a young adolescent wrapped with thick cloth. The remains were carbon dated and found to be from between 945 and 830 BC. The pot had been buried in the middle of the circle along with 80 other smashed shards, 4 bits of shale and some sweepings from a pyre.
A little to the west of the monument are two round stone-walled prehistoric huts and a fulacht fiadh (cooking place). The huts are conjoined which means they are connected by an inter-leading door. A causeway leads from the huts to the fulacht fiadh which features a hearth, a well and a trough in which water could be boiled by the addition of red-hot stones. According to www.stonepages.com/ireland, recent tests have shown that using this ‘boiling’ method, 70 or more gallons of water could be boiled for almost 3 hours.
Given the presence of the prehistoric kitchen, the huts and the stone circle, it can be suggested that annual or seasonal gatherings took place at the sacred site down to the 5th century AD – which is what carbon dating reveals for the cooking place.
Getting there: Turn left off the N71 from Clonakilty to Rosscarbery onto the R597 (just after you have crossed the causeway). After about 4km, you will see a left turn signposted for Drombeg Stone Circle. Keep driving along the narrow country road and you will come to a small car park for Drombeg. The stone circle is just a short walk from there.