This intriguing mystery from the Stone or Early Bronze Age is located in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains at Beaghmore, which translates from the Irish as “moor of the birches”. Past visitors would advise you to bring a jacket – even in summer, as the site is almost always windy.
The Beaghmore Stones rise proudly from the land in seven circular formations, alongside a dozen ancient cairns. They had lain under bog – undisturbed for thousands of years – until, in 1945, a group of local farmers unearthed them while cutting peat in a remote moorland area on the southern fringe of the Sperrin Mountains. Archaeologists believe that many more stones and formations may still lie unexcavated beneath the bog.
The stones currently exposed stand in pairs and alone, as well as in rows. Some scientists say that the lines of the formations point toward the spot on the horizon where the sun rises in midsummer. Many of the layouts of stones and cairns look like maps of the sky, giving rise to the belief that the stone circles were some kind of primitive astronomical tool. Other possible purposes include spiritual rituals, navigational devices, and even fertility rites. The origin of the Beaghmore Stone Circles is estimated to be around 2000-1200 B.C. Further excavation of the site has turned up flint tools and hearths, carbon dated as far back as 2600 B.C. Considering the age of this megalythic monument, the exact motivation for the creation of the stone formations at Beaghmore may remain a mystery forever.
From Cookstown, take the A505 west for approx 10 kilometres, until you see a signpost for the Beaghmore Stones on the right. The site is is about 5 kilometres along a track that runs north off the main road.