Art Interpretation: Stolen Megalithic Art

Whilst the exact meaning of megalithic art is unclear, it was certainly important. At Knowth, County Meath it is likely that much of the megalithic art was stolen from other sites. Many stones have decorations that are not visible. Rather than being ritualistic 'hidden art', it is more likely the builders were simply displaying the best side of their stolen stones.

Stolen Megalithic Art

Two superb examples of megalithic art were reused in different souterrains. The Newtownbalregan stone was carefully selected from a Megalithic tomb, cut down to size and displayed in an Early Medieval souterrain. The pattern shows various 'paisley' and 'trumpet' motifs.  In the souterrain, the stone was placed deliberately near a light box where a lamp could illuminate the carvings.  This display not only showed its beauty but also created an impression of a portal into the bowels of the earth.

The Tateetra stone shows a lovely 'evil eye' motif. This stone probably dates around 3500-2500BC and came from one of the Balregan monuments. The Tateetra stone robbers were not interested in the art and simply wanted the stone for their souterrain. Other stolen stones showing megalithic art from Newtownbalregan and Tateetra were also simply used as pieces of masonry.

ASI: What about other stones in Tateetra?
Many stones in the Tateetra souterrain had no art on them but their shape and erosion patterns imply they were originally standing stones. These stones were taken from the Balregan henge and cut down into salami- slices to be used as capstones in the souterrain