Clonmel woman discovers ancient hidden "treasure" on town's doorstep

Eamonn Wynne


Eamonn Wynne


Aoibheann Lambe

Clonmel woman Aoibheann Lambe discovered an ancient 'standing stone' at Knocklucas, just off the Mountain Road outside Clonmel

An ancient ‘standing stone’ - a prehistoric grave or route marker, dating back to 2400 BC-AD 500- has been discovered outside Clonmel.

One of only three known to be in the town area, it was recently discovered by local woman Aoibheann Lambe.

Hidden in scrub and obscured by ivy at Knocklucas, just off Mountain Road, Aoibheann Lambe says "it has been carefully cleaned off by Mr.Cronin, uncle of the landowner, and is now perfectly visible from the Mayor's Walk, with excellent views over the town and the summit of Slievenamon to the north east".

Ms Lambe is studying for a Master's degree in Prehistoric Rock Art (a field of archaeology that focuses on prehistoric carvings) in UCC and discovered the standing stone as part of her studies of rock art in South Tipperary.

The daughter of the late Clare and Paddy Lambe (who owned a menswear shop in O’Connell Street, Clonmel on the site of Allen’s store), she says that Clonmel people have been passing ancient standing stones, hidden in ditches, without realising their significance, for generations.

"While 80 standing stones are on record for South Tipp, only two were listed on the Archaeological Survey for Clonmel - one by Dudley's Mills on the Coleville Road, in a field by a ditch, and another which was found in King Street during the construction of a housing development and moved from there. 

"The Giant's Grave, officially listed as a 'cross-inscribed pillar', also dates back to the Bronze Age - the crosses would have been added in medieval times. 

"The next closest standing stones are approximately 11 kilometres or more from the town and are found in the vicinity of Ballypatrick, Ballyneale, Ballymacarbry and Knockmorris, Kilmaloge and Knocknakillardy".

According to the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, a standing stone is "a stone which has been deliberately set upright in the ground, usually orientated on a north-east-south-west axis, although other orientations do occur, and varying in height from 0.5 metres up to 6 metres. 

"They functioned as prehistoric burial markers, commemorative monuments, indicators of routeways or boundaries and date from the Bronze and Iron Ages (circa 2400 BC- AD 500), with some associated with early medieval ecclesiastical and burial contexts (circa 5th-12th centuries)". 

Above - The standing stone discovered by Clonmel woman Aoibheann Lambe at Knocklucas, just off Mountain Road, Clonmel

Aoibheann Lambe says that prehistoric carvings can be easily overlooked, as they often comprise only round hollows which can look naturally formed. 

"The carvings can be elaborate too, with rings enclosing the hollows and other lines meandering over the surface. They date as far back as the last phase of the Stone Age - the Neolithic.  

"I am certain there are plenty to be discovered around Clonmel.  

"If anyone knows of any carvings, please take photos and contact me through my Facebook page rockartkerry or on 087-6007820".