Baltinglass Hill: Ireland’s Forgotten Gobekli Tepi?
Resting high upon the hills of Wicklow lies buried one of the most remarkable Neolithic sites in all of Europe. Strangely, even today many people are unaware of its existence.
Baltinglass Hill is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites consisting of what many believe to be an ancient observatory, a ruined stone circle, and structures which up until recently were called ‘tombs’ but are now much more likely to be ceremonial sites aligning the earth to the stars.
There are also structures and huge rectangular pillar-type slabs protruding from the earth around the ruins, some containing carvings which cannot be seen properly because they are still buried. These unexamined stones stretch across and down through the fields and woods from Baltinglass and lead towards Boleycarrigeen Stone Circle.
Stone at Baltinglass Hill, Wicklow, Ireland. (Photo © David Halpin)
Links to Stellar Gods and Goddesses
At the foot of the Baltinglass complex in the opposite direction lie what may have once been huge entrance stones inscribed with markings that look similar to middle-east and Eurasian carvings.
Perhaps most impressive, in terms of what we can currently examine, is a magnificent ceremonial stone basin within one of the grottos at the pinnacle of the hill. Perhaps this granite font had a shamanistic purpose and was filled with psychoactive substances and would have been consumed during ritual ceremonies. This would also align to particular constellations illuminating the hillside where part of the astrotheological belief systems of the Druids meant that a particular star or astral body would infuse a ritual preparation with its link to stellar gods and goddesses.
(Photo © David Halpin)
Initially associated with Hill Forts, Baltinglass is now proving to be a much more enigmatic and important group of structures.
A common misconception amongst many people is that the Celts were the builders of Ireland’s great stone circles and monuments such as Newgrange, but this is not the case. The Celts arrival in Ireland, commonly agreed to be roughly 500 BC, is closer in time to us today than it is to the construction of Newgrange, for example.
Newgrange passage tombs, a prehistoric monument in Ireland, built during the Neolithic period around 3000 BC to 2500 BC. It is older than Stonehenge or the Giza Pyramids. ( Public Domain )
Many people in Ireland around 3500 BC were in fact from the southern Mediterranean and Eurasia which was proven as recently as December 2015 by Trinity College, Dublin and Queens University, Belfast.
Tantalisingly, a discovery by Dr Marion Dowd, an archaeologist at IT Sligo, and Dr Ruth Carden, a Research Associate with the National Museum of Ireland has shown that Ireland was populated much earlier than initially believed, and this allows us to anticipate much more exciting discoveries in the future in relation to who Ireland’s first people actually were.
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Perhaps many of Ireland stone circles and monuments such as Baltinglass do not belong to the Neolithic at all and in fact connect more to the time of Gobekli Tepi in the Mesolithic; the DNA certainly allows for this possibility, in fact it positively screams it out at us. However, the question would then have to be asked: do we have any similar themes or alignments to back this theory up?
Gobekli Tepi is currently dated to before 9000 BC, but with earlier levels still to be excavated this date will be pushed back in the near future. Currently, there are two main cases for constellation alignment; Orion and Cygnus.
Gobekli Tepe, found in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of modern-day Turkey, has been dated to before 9000 BC. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Another reason to abandon the hill fort association is that Baltinglass Hill has no water supply, no weapons have been found, and evidence shows the populations did not fight in the way we are accustomed to seeing in movies, such as storming a structure from below. In fact, populations at this time were quite fragmented, and it is estimated that the population in Ireland was roughly 100,000 people, which is aligned to levels throughout the Neolithic.
Perhaps the most telling factor of all when it comes to the importance and breadth of Baltinglass as a ceremonial center is the extension of further stone circles and Dolmens overlooked by the hill itself.