Cavan Burren National Park (Part 1: Celtic Alter)
Note: If the quintessential Celtic ‘dreamscape’ is what you are hoping to find in a hiking experience, Cavan Burren National Park is the place for you. This pristine pre-history landscape is sacred on every possible level, with roughly ten square miles of Celtic wildlife preserve. Embedded in the surreal panoramic vistas surrounding Cuilcagh Mountain, on which the park is mainly canvased, are priceless 5000 year old Wedge Tombs, Alters, Dolmens, and megaliths. A fantastic trail runs from the main entrance/visitors-center of the park to beautiful anthropological sites. The area is absolutely worthy of several specified reviews for each of the sites along this main route, but the real wonder of the region, and perhaps it’s most establishing distinction as a truly Celtic reserve for both exquisitely rare natural fauna and neolithic cultural gems, is that the off trail hiking reveals supremely beautiful works of ancient stone engineering as well. I discovered this incredible alter, featured in the title image above, by interpreting the lay of the engineered stones expressed over the landscape. Postmodern anthropologists have taken a dismissively poor perspective on what they have lazily identified as “farmers walls” looping over the hillsides. These “farmers walls” are not “walls” at all; functionally they do not limit the movements of grazing flocks in any way. Herds can simply walk over these stones if they so choose, so by literal definition, it is not a wall. The function of these special stones that look to our modern eyes as “walling” is actually a type of primitive ‘cable system’ that connects each sacred alter, from one to the next. These stone linings are like the wire that runs between a battery’s charge points, to the base-tip of a light bulb, passing energy from one end-point of energy to the next. I found this alter by following the lined stones running north west off the main trail. My educated guess was therefore to follow the lined stones I observed to see what special feature it was connected to. I arrived at this incredible Celtic alter wonderfully positioned at the next hilltop, approximately 1.5 miles northwest of the main trails (Top Image). Here again was another moment where my firm belief in the premise of engineered landscapes was vindicated. The earliest Celtic cultures attempted to harness and designate the transfer of energy in the landscape with stones that absorb the energy from the sun and connect the alters sitting strategically at the top the hills. These lined stones funneled energy from peak to peak, alter to alter. Most modern anthropologists fall victim to assuming that a ‘defined sacred space’ requires a specific ‘central temple’ that celebrates the area in a basically singular declaration. What they refuse to consider is that an even higher expression of the sacredness of the landscape is of course to utilize it while celebrating it, making the entire area a type of living, functional temple which connects each elevated corner. This engineering is also present in the mountains and forests of New England. I encourage hikers to prepare appropriate gear for deeply experiencing the landscape, for trekking into wilder corners of the reserves. If you follow the stone-linings of ancient Celtic zones to areas away from the designated trail, you will soon find that the premise of engineered landscapes is absolutely real. Aside form this, the natural beauty of the area is stellar. To deeply experience any ancient landscape equip yourself with cinema-capable cameras and capture your trek. Cavan Burren National Park is a portal into the primordial era of the earths most fantastic expressions, with priceless anthropological expressions of engineering from the first culture on earth. Seek, and find it out for yourself.