Belfast, well Northern Ireland really, has such a thing for giants. The Giant’s Causeway, Cave Hill inspiring Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Today I visited the less widely visited Giant’s Ring, a neolithic (2700 BC) henge monument just beyond the Belfast city limits. After taking Jack to his American Football training session I decided it was better not to go home. You see, I’ve been a bit house bound recently. Not that I’ve been sick or anything, I just haven’t been able to motivate myself into doing things with my weekend. Anything could be the excuse from the vacuuming to the snowy weather. Then last week I remembered that I’m a strong, independent woman who has done a bunch of travelling on her own and so decided to make use of the sunshine and rare access to a car this morning.
The Giant’s ring is about a ten minute drive from my house. You turn off the A55 circle road at Shaw’s Bridge. Although I pelted along in Tiernan’s and my new Fiesta, Shaw’s Bridge has been a river crossing since at least the Stone Age and it’s a massively popular area for long walks, mountain biking, trail running and kayaking. I was at the Giant’s Ring car park for opening time, but after one hour of walking locals started to materialise from almost everywhere. The thin, snaking walking trails did not seem wide enough for all the buggies, puppies and other miscellaneous weekend traffic!
So, the first day into my new regime of doing things with my weekends started off very well! I’m keen to visit more of Ireland’s prehistoric sites. My “new” job is not in any way on the path to my fantasy, anthropology related career, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spend my spare time learning and poking about National Trust sites. I probably spent a good hour just walking in circles around the little henge in the middle of this paddock! Like many henge monuments, the general consensus is that the Giant’s Ring was intended as a burial or ritual site (one thing I learned as an Archaeology student is that everything is ritual). One thing is for sure, there is a structure in the centre of a large circular enclosure. Slightly east of centre, the structure is made up of five upright stones and a cap stone, which a passage on the western side. This is essentially the framework of what is thought to have been a chambered grave. To me, it’s just so cute! It’s a baby tomb nestled in the centre of an awesome earthwork and set against both the rising sun and the snowcapped hills.
After thoroughly photographing the Giant’s Ring I decided to follow some joggers out the southern exit. On the other side of the earthen walls I found a little gate and the start of a fenced trail. I must have said “Mornin'” to a dozen people as I meandered the gravel path; taking a lot longer than your average bear to walk it as I kept stopping for photos. Killed a couple of hours, got some photos to share, experienced a new place and got back in time to collect Jack. Could this be the start of a routine?