The stone, which stands upon the Hill of Tara in County Meath, was smashed with a hammer on all four sides. Chips broke off from it but were not found, suggesting that the culprits took them.
The stone is the traditional coronation site for the ancient High Kings of Ireland, semi-mythical rulers about whom little is known for certain. The last king was supposed to have been crowned there around the year 500 A.D. The stone was said to be magical and when the rightful king touched it, the stone would roar in approval.
The stone is a menhir, or lone standing stone, dating back to the Neolithic some 5,500 years ago. Many megalithic monuments such as menhirs and stone circles were seen as magical by later cultures.
This is the latest of several acts of vandalism against ancient sites. Unrest in Syria has led to destruction and looting of archaeological sites. In Israel, a 1,600-year-old synagogue mosaic was wrecked by ultra-orthodox Jews. Then there are the oil pipelines passing through Babylon in Iraq.
At this rate of ignorance and greed, there won’t be any ancient sites left for our grandkids to admire.
[Photo courtesy Andrew Dietz]