The earliest datable stone monument in Ireland

The Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone dates to 700 AD and is one of the earliest datable stone monuments in Ireland. It stands six feet tall and the Ogham script on the stone translates to ‘ this place, Ternoc, son of Ciaran the Little, bequeathed it under the protection of the apostle Peter’. Ternoc’s death has been recorded to 716 AD and so it can, therefore, be assumed that the pillar stone was sculpted a few years earlier. There are at least 10 carved crosses on its front and back (some of which are within circles) and 31 incised cut marks that may have been caused by swords or knives being sharpened. Pillar stones were usually located on sites that were previously used for pagan worship or to commemorate an ancient warrior or boundary. There is also an ancient graveyard on this site and many of the graves points towards this stone. Beside the stone is an old story of a cow that says… ‘there once was a famous cow in this glen that gave milk in abundance to everybody who came, always filling the bucket.  One person, however, attempted either through greed or malice, to milk her into a sieve which angered the cow so much that she stamped her foot on this stone and then fled the valley forever’…a shape of a hoof remains beside this stone to this day! This mountainous area in south Armagh is known as Slieve Gullion and is incredibly rich in historical monuments.