Home » Places » Places to See » The Holestone of Doagh – A History of Mystery & Marriage
The Holestone on the mound
The Holestone on the rocky outcrop


Perched on top of a rocky outcrop near Doagh in County Antrim is the Celtic whinstone megalith, known as the Holestone. It is one of the best preserved standing stones in Ireland and is thought to date back to the Bronze Age. It is just less than 5ft tall and the smooth hole is funnel shaped tapering to 10cm in diameter.

The rocky mound is about 10ft high and circular and is in itself an impressive feature. Robert Armstrong in his book Through the Ages to Newtownabbey says “Each time I visit this site I wonder if the platform on which it (the Holestone) stands holds an undiscovered secret…

The Doagh Holestone and the presence of numerous souterrains in the area are evidence of an ancient settlement at this location. (The word souterrain comes from the French “sous-terrain” referring to an underground passageway or gallery possibly used as hiding place or a larder).

The Lovestone

The Holestone - Love and Marriage
The Holestone – Love and Marriage

Traditionally the Holestone, sometimes called the Lovestone, is associated with love and marriage. A woman would place her hand through the hole and her intended would clasp it on the other side. Thus they were betrothed and pledged to each other undying love. In some cases, when clergy were unavailable the Holestone was used as the marriage ceremony itself. Local engaged couples and newly-weds still visit the Holestone in honour of this ancient custom.

“To this day, through all the changes of race and peoples that have occurred in County Antrim… the tradition that the Holestone is a betrothal, if not a marriage token remains unbroken, and couples from all the district round still plight their troths by clasping fingers through the ring or hole in this stone”.

H C Lawlor  The Irish Naturalists Journal 1930
Monuments and the Holestone - H.C. Taylor
Monuments and the Holestone – H.C. Taylor

Pagan Beginnings

No one knows the origins or the original intended purpose of the stone. One theory is that it was a meeting place for Celtic kings, perhaps to seal deals or pacts. Others believe it marks a significant burial site. It has also been associated with pagan altars and fertility rites. Folklore claims that if you look through the hole it will guide you to hidden treasure.

The Holestone – A Warning for the unfaithful

One legend tells of a man who was unfaithful on his wedding night. The couple had sworn their fidelity at the Holestone. He was cursed to spend eternity as a black horse roaming the countryside.


The Holestone stands about a mile from the village of Doagh and just under 17 miles from Belfast. Its prominent position on the hilltop gives it commanding views over the Six Mile Water Valley. The ascent of the rocks forming the mound is steep with uneven surfaces – you may need to use you use your hands/ knees on the larger rocks! Also, as you have to walk through a field to reach the Holestone, we suggest a dry day if possible!

Map: Find it on the map

Address: 24 Holestone Road, Doagh, Ballyclare, County Antrim BT 39 0SB

What are others reading now?

Galboly cottage view

Galboly – The County Antrim Village Lost in Time

By P&P / 30 September 2021 / 4 Comments
Mill chimney - a common sight in Belfast

Ardoyne – The Story of a Village

By P&P / 13 November 2021 / 2 Comments
Bodies Illustration at the scene Belfast Telegraph 13th March 1890

Nora’s Grave – A True Story of Love & Death

By P&P / 19 March 2022 / 0 Comments
Belfast Long Bridge crossed the River Lagan between 1688 and 1841

Unusual Laws in Old Belfast 1613 – 1816

By P&P / 11 March 2022 / 0 Comments

If you enjoyed this article…

Belfast Entries is a husband & wife hobby website featuring articles on our shared history, memories and entertaining stories of our past. We hope you enjoy visiting the website. If you like our posts please help us to grow our readership by sharing any posts that you like. There are social media sharing icons at the foot of each post. Simply tap to share with your friends.

A Word of Thanks

We would particularly like to thank those who have made a donation via Paypal or the “Buy Us A Coffee” feature. Every small donation goes a little way towards covering the costs of running the website and helps us keep Belfast Entries running. Your support is appreciated.

Click the image below to read more about making a small donation.

Buy Us a Coffee
Buy Us a Coffee

We have 1 donation this month. Thank you 😃

We had 4 donations last month.

Thank you all for your generosity and words of encouragement

Please share our posts to help us increase readership for future posts. All posts can be shared directly from this website page or can be shared from our Facebook page.

Cost of Living Crisis

Given the current cost of living crisis that will impact so many in coming months we have added a page signposting organisations that may be able to offer support. We have no relationship with these organisations and cannot offer financial advice but we hope that some of the links may prove useful.

Belfast Entries posts & photos are our intellectual property and copyrighted to us. Where we use photos that do not belong to us, it is because we believe them to be in the public domain or shared under a Creative Commons licence with appropriate attribution. None of our content or images can be used without our consent. Note that a link to our Copyright & Takedown notice is included in the website footer on all pages.


We are a Belfast couple adding information on Belfast and the surrounding counties. Over coming months we will add a range of posts covering the people, places, products and stories that interest us and will hopefully be of interest to you. Over time we hope to build up information of use to locals & visitors alike and welcome your feedback on subjects of interest or stories that might be interest to the wider audience. Let us know what you think.


Rob Lyttle · 25 November 2022 at 7:56 pm

Brilliant…. Thanks for this.
I moved to the far end of Cornwall in 76 and lived there for mmmmm mm….. 40+years. Still plenty of standing stones, round house remains, and ancient sites. I love them!
In fact, when I was at Belfast Art College I started painting this standing stone that was in my head. And years later, about 4 miles from the Lands End, I FOUND IT! Known as the Blind Fiddler.
Was a kind of Close Encounters thing 😇
You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if that “betrothal” theme was the original use of the stone. These “habits with meaning” have a persistence that can transcend wars, religions, and thousands of years, just by being “passed on”
Love your work 😍

    P&P · 28 November 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you very much Rob. We love the stories of olden times with myths & legends galore. The old pre-Christian beliefs are fascinating.

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Would you like notifications of new Belfast Entries posts? OK No thanks