Turoe Stone
Celtic La Tene Sculpture/Megalith: History, Engravings.

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Turoe Stone, a granite sculpture
decorated in the La Tene style of
Celtic art, County Galway, Ireland.
See also: Celtic Sculpture.

For a guide to the chronology
and evolution of 3-D art,
see: Sculpture History.

The Turoe Stone (c.150-250 BCE)

A masterpiece of Irish Iron Age art, the sculpture known as the Turoe Stone, ("Turoe" derives from "Cloch an Tuair Rua" meaning "The Stone of the Red Pasture") now stands in the village of Bullaun near Loughrea, County Galway, in the west of Ireland. This white phallus-shaped monument, 5 feet 6 inches in height (1.68m), is sculpted and decorated in the La Tène Celtic art style (itself strongly influenced by Etruscan and Greek art) and is considered to be an important example of Irish sculpture influenced by Celtic culture of the late Iron Age. Its complex decorative patterns seem to be part of a Celtic artistic tradition that was earlier responsible for the carvings at Newgrange, and later responsible for the High Cross sculptures of the Irish Medieval Christian era, under the influence of missionaries and monasteries after the collapse of Rome. (Note: For larger works, see: Megaliths as well as Megalithic Art.)

Turoe Stone, Showing Low Relief
Curvilinear La Tene Celtic Designs.

For more facts, see: Plastic Art.
For more about arts in Ireland
see: Irish Art Questions.

The Turoe Stone is carved from granite and covered with intricate La Tène designs produced in low relief to a depth of about 1 inch. The abstract artwork consists of a continuous series of curved lines, including circles, concentric spirals and other curvilinear motifs such as trumpet-ends and triskeles. A number of key-designs are also visible.

The Best Plastic Art
For the most important works, see: Greatest Sculptures Ever.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the stone sculpture was moved from its original position at a local Iron Age ring-fort known as the Rath of Feerwore, ("Rath" meaning fortified farmstead, "Fír Mhór" meaning great men). The precise function of the Turoe Stone at this Iron Age fort remains unknown, but the amount of craftmanship and artistic skill lavished upon the sculpture suggests that it possessed enormous religious, ceremonial or ritualistic significance. Some Iron Age historians believe that the word "Red" in the place name "Turoe" indicates its use as a place of human or animal sacrifice, while other archeologists believe the particular La Tène artistry indicates that the stone was originally carved in France by Celtic sculptors and later moved to Ireland. Even so, the stone marks an important step in the history of Irish art, exemplifying the creativity of the Ancient Celts.

Several other Iron Age La Tène sculptures have survived: they include the egg-shaped Castlestrange Stone, in County Roscommon, the Killycluggin Stone in County Cavan, the Mullaghmast Stone in County Kildare, the Derrykeighan Stone in County Antrim, and the famous Navel Stone at Delphi, in Greece.

• For more about the history of Irish public sculpture, see: Visual Arts in Ireland.
• For information about Irish sculptors, see: Irish Art Guide.
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