The Prehistoric Longstone at Punchestown, Naas, Co. Kildare

View of the Punchestown Longstone, Co. Kildare silhouetted against a steel-grey sky.

The great granite stone is 7m long and weighs 9.236 tonnes. The stone fell in 1931 and was re-erected. During this work it was found that the sub-surface part of the stone showed evidence that it had been shaped with a stone hammer. The stone had been erected in setting of thirteen stones. Against the south-west side of the stone setting was a small polygonal cist formed by four stones that contained a single pig bone, but could have originally contained a burial. There is no dating evidence for the Punchestown stone. The nearby Longstone in the Longstone Rath at Forenaghts Great also had a trapezoidal cist which contained cremated human remains, pottery and a fragment of an archer’s wrist guard which is a classic Beaker Period find. This suggests the Forenaghts Great Stone was erected in the period 2450-1900 BC when Beaker was in use in Ireland and the Punchestown stone probably dates to the same period. In 1981 a Bronze Age cist burial containing the cremated and inhumed remains of four people was found 700m to the east of the Punchestown Longstone during harrowing. There is another large standing stone to the south-west in Craddockstown townland.

A local tradition recorded in the nineteenth century is that the stone was hurled by Finn MacCumhail from the top of the Hill of Allen during a contest. Gerald of Wales in his twelfth century book The Topography of Ireland referred to the Punchestown stone as the Giant’s Dance and related how it and the other standing stones of the area had been brought by giants from Africa and set up on the plains of Kildare near Naas.

View Punchestown in a larger map

GPS coordinates 53.191842,-6.629219

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