Druid's Altar, Island Magee (or Islandmagee, near Larne, County Antrim).

From The Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 1, Number 27, December 29, 1832.

On an eminence near the north-east extremity of Island Magee, County of Antrim, there still remains one of those monuments of the olden time, which antiquaries have distinguished by the name of Druid's altars. According to some authors, the religious rites of our Pagan ancestors were performed on hills or mountains, while others assert they worshipped only in woods or groves on the plains. In illustration of those assertions, we can assure the reader that we have seen those objects in all those situations--on the mountain and in the dale, on the hill and in the wood, on the rook and in the plain. There are other antiquarians, however, who deny that those extraordinary remains were altars, and consider them rather as ancient tombs; and perhaps they were intended for both purposes, for among many ancient nations their earliest altars were the monuments of the dead.

The altar now under consideration, consists of six large stones, standing upright, and forming two rows, about two feet asunder, extending east and west. Four of the stones are on the north side, and two on the south, each stone being fully three feet above the ground. On these rests a large flat slab, upwards of six feet in length, pretty smooth on both sides, and nearly two feet thick. The breadth is unequal, its west end being near six feet, but sloping to the east to about half that breadth. At present this slab rests only on two stones on the north side, and one on the south; the others seem as if they had crept into the earth, to avoid bearing up this enormous load. From several large stones lying about, and seen in the adjoining fences, it is alleged that this altar was formerly encompassed by a circle of stones.

In ploughing in the field in which this altar stands, in 1817, a spiral instrument of pure gold, 11 inches in length, was discovered; and a few years after several detached parts of a gold collar, or Torquis, were dug up near the altar. In March, 1824, several spiral golden ornaments, of the above form, supposed to be armlets, or bracelets for the arms, were found in a rich soil or mould , the largest weighed 526 grains, a lesser one, 188 grains. They were turned up by the plough, about three or four feet from the altar--one of them was of a different structure from the other, and appeared as if two plates were applied to each other.

In the back ground of this view, is seen the peninsula of Curran, near the extremity of which stand some ruins of the ancient Castle of Olderfleet, at out one mile from the town of Larne. It was on this peninsula that Lord Edward Bruce landed with 6,000 men, on the 25th May, 1315, being invited over by O'Neil, and other Irish chieftains, to become king of Ireland.

Carrickfergus. S M'S. [Samuel M`Skimin].