As part of the ongoing search for ideas for day trips and things to do on longer holidays, the National Monuments Service both preserves historically important structures and provides a good deal of information about them and their history. One of their recently updated lists caught my interest, that of the locations of rock art across Ireland with many dating back thousands of years. The raw data files are available at the national open data site. I’ve used this data to put together an interactive map of the locations by rock art by type.
One of the most common ancient types of rock art are cupmarked stones. These are large stones or rocks that were worked by people in the past to have hemispherical indentation. A great explanation with lots of examples is available here.
Passage tombs are also sites of rock art. The most famous in Newgrange are UNESCO protected and, constructed over 5000 years ago, older than the pyramids. More, including how the passages are aligned to allow the sun into their inner chambers only during the solstice at https://www.knowth.com.
The more mysterious and very rare examples in this data are the cursing stones. Very few examples survive as they were systematically destroyed by the church during the 19th century. From folk tradition, they functioned as places where curses could be placed on others by creating symbols from stones and chanting a formula. A description of the ritual and some of the sites is here.
Finally, there’s the general rock art category for all other ancient markings on rock surfaces.