Isle of Albion
Ireland's largest stone circle enclosed by an earthen bank.
Photographed: Thursday 6th September 2007
Other Names: Lough Gur, Lios na Grainsi
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Grange Lios is Ireland's largest stone circle, consisting of 113 tightly-spaced stones laid out in a ring that measures 46 metres in diameter. The circle is enclosed by an earthen bank, approximately 10 metres wide an about 1 metre in height. The majority of the stones are local limestone, but some are volcanic breccia, originating about a mile away. The largest of these is a huge stone known as the Crom Dubh. This megalith weighs in excess of 60 tons and is aligned with the midsummer sunrise. Next to it, there stands a small stack of stones, believed to represent Eithne, the seed-maiden and concubine of Crom Dubh.

Twelve larger stones (or "orthosats") have been placed at regular intervals around the stone circle, with each facing directly towards a partner on the opposite side of the ring. Two of these stones flank the north-eastern entrance, opening onto a narrow, stone lined gap in the embankment. These are matched by another pair of large stones on the south-western side of the circle, and this is believed to have originally formed an alignment with the sunset on the Celtic festival of Samhain.

Grange Lios is part of a much larger Neolithic complex that dominates the local landscape. Further stone circles, standing stones, hut circles, wedge tombs... all can be found within a short distance of Grange Lios, making this a unique and important site.

I visited Grange Lios at the end of a busy day, reaching it just in time to catch the last of the evening light. This lent the circle a fey quality, but the lack of direct illumination made the use of a flash essential for photography. Fortunately, the effect was distinctly haunting, making the trip more than worthwhile.

Grange Lios is powerfully reminiscent of the Rollright Stones, with its tight, limestone megaliths, packed together like jagged teeth. Like its English cousin, this is a dramatic and unusual circle. The surrounding countryside is softly evocative, nurturing its monuments in a forgetful and dreamy embrace. This is a place to spend many hours - explore the country side at a sedate and contemplative pace and take the time to soak up the atmosphere of one of Ireland's greatest Neolithic landscapes.