The County Kildare Federation of Local History Groups’ logo is a motif that forms part of the carvings from the Neolithic period discovered on a boulder unearthed east of Naas at Forenaghts Great in 1975, and as such, the motif represents one of the earliest expressions of material culture still existent in County Kildare.
The following drawing and brief extract are taken from the Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society, Volume XV, No. 5 (1975), titled, Rock Art from Forenaghts Great Townland, written by Elizabeth Shee.
‘In Marth 1975 Mr. David Synnott of Furness House noticed some carvings on a newly exposed stone on his lands in Forenaghts Great Townland, Co. Kildare, about three miles east of Naas. Realising the significance of the carvings, he immediately notified the National Museum of Ireland of the discovery and the site was examined by the Keeper of Irish Antiquities, Dr. Joseph Raftery, who, in turn, informed me of the find. The decorated stone was revealed at about 450ft. O.D. during ploughing in a field just 200m south east of the medieval church of Furness (National Monument No. 394). Mr. Synnott has brought the stone to this church and it now rests against the outer face of the east wall of the chancel.’
The carvings on the boulder were subsequently classified as Rock Art (KD019-024003- in the Record of Monuments and Places), and dated by Elizabeth Shee to between 2000 BC and 1500 BC, which places them in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age. However, more recent dating evidence suggests that the carving of ‘quintessential’ rock art motifs as a tradition began as early as the Middle Neolithic (possibly even earlier), and continued into the Later Neolithic period, possibly extending into the Early Bronze Age (See: Inscribed landscapes: contextualising prehistoric rock art in Ireland, O’Connor, B., 2006, UCD PhD thesis). This would push the likely dating of the carvings back further than Shee suggested.
The long narrow gouges on the lower section of the boulder (in its current orientation) are ploughshare scoring.
The logo isolates the dominant design on the boulder. At the centre of this composition is a ‘rosette’ arrangement consisting of seven of the commonest motif found in rock art, the cupmark. A singular cupmark is placed at the centre of the composition of seven. This ‘rosette’ is in turn surrounded by four concentric circles (or rings), the outer most of which changes direction and curves outward to from the outer ring of a smaller circular motif that also contains a central cupmark. A small number of cup and rings have also been included.
Although ‘history’ and ‘local history’ begin with the advent of written records, the story of the people of the past, in what is now County Kildare, is also told through the prehistoric material culture found through archaeology and evident in our prehistoric monuments. The marks created on the Forenaghts boulder, being some of the oldest expressions of human culture in the county, are a fitting symbol to encompass the broad range of topics and eras typically covered in the talks and lectures held by the various history groups and societies in the county and broader region.