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Irish Illusions

Episode 3 of 5

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 17 February 2008

Archaeologist George Nash explores five of Western Europe's most remarkable rock art sites.

George visits County Meath in Ireland where strange patterns adorn the walls of the Fourknocks Passage Grave. What do the patterns mean?

George finds himself being stared at by a very odd cartoon-like face inside a 5000-year-old Irish tomb. It's a very early example of what we now call "graffiti" - and around it are hypnotic patterns of concentric circles, horizontal zigzags and strings of diamond shapes. Strangely similar carvings occur in Wales, Brittany and the Iberian peninsular. So who created them? What do they all mean? And who was copying who in Neolithic times?

George teams up with the modern-day Muslim graffiti artist Mohammed Ali to study these patterns for their spiritual significance, which may just lie in the fact that they are not as perfect as they seem. And he considers the possibility that Stone Age Man may well have been 'stoned' when he created them.

Producer: Chris Eldon Lee
A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.


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