The site was discovered by a local historian George Barnett in the late 1930s during peat cutting when precisely 1,269 stones were uncovered. The site was partially excavated in the four years after the end of the second world war when it was taken into state care. The circles were also excavated in 1965.
Investigation of the site indicates that the area has been occupied since Neolithic times though the stone circles and cairns are attributed to the earlier part of the Bronze Age c. 2,000–1,200 BC. Further stones and cairns may still lie hidden in the adjacent peat.
There is little doubt Beaghmore marked a focal point for religious and social gatherings. Some archaeologists believe the circles were constructed to reflect the rising of the sun at the solstice, or acted as observatories for particular lunar, solar or stellar events (hence the comet idea for the Dragon’s Teeth stone circle). The alignments of the circles do correlate to movements of the heavenly bodies, three of the rows point to sunrise at the summer solstice, and one of the stone rows is aligned towards moonrise at the same period.
What is unusual is the stone rows have a high and low arrangement where short rows of tall stones run beside much longer rows of small stones. I have found no explanation as to what this could mean. Some of the stone cairns on the site have been found to hold cremated human remains, so it is possible that at least part of the function of the site was for burials.
From my next book about Travels in Northern Ireland and Scotland