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White Stone of Cave Hill formally acknowledged

11 Aug 2017
The White Stone of Cave Hill, used as a marker by the Allied aircraft flying across Belfast during the Second World War, has been formally acknowledged today by the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled this morning at a breakfast event in Belfast Castle, attended by Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Nuala McAllister and historian Eamon Phoenix.

Postman William Adair Caulfield, who lived in Cavehill Cottage at the top of the Upper Cavehill Road first painted the stone bright white in 1941 for a fee of £5 from the War Department.

Thanks to the efforts of the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign, the stone has now been designated a “Recorded Historical Landmark” by the Historic Monuments Division of the Department for Communities, has been added to the Defence Heritage database and is also featured on Facebook page “Love Heritage NI”, maintained by the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities.

Cave Hill Conservation Campaign member Cormac Hamill explains: “We decided to bring the stone to public attention back in 2016 and informed the then Department of the Environment.

“Over the years, the memory of why the stone was painted had begun to fade but interestingly, a vestige of the tradition remained and many people painted it. It has been, in turn, orange, white, green, red, blue and even a vibrant pink in 2014 to celebrate the start of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast.

“The true history of the stone came to light as a result of an overheard conversation. Two of us were discussing how little we knew about the stone on one of our public walks when a lady heard us and introduced herself as the granddaughter of William Adair Caulfield and she was able to tell us the background.”

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Nuala McAllister said: “I commend the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign for their efforts in preserving and raising awareness of this important part of our heritage.

“I look forward to seeing lots of people visiting the stone and taking in one of the best viewpoints on the beautiful Cave Hill, an area I walk to often with my family. The White Stone will remain a tribute to William Adair Caulfield and to all those who used it during the War to help navigate aircraft safely in Belfast airspace.”

Cave Hill Conservation Campaign was founded in 1989 to oppose any exploitation of the natural resources of Cave Hill. The group’s aims have broadened to include highlighting Cave Hill as a valuable and irreplaceable asset for everyone, and in particular the citizens of Belfast. The 350 hectares of the Cave Hill Park contain a wide range of flora and fauna as well as a number of locations where humans have marked their presence on the hill. For more information on the Campaign and the group’s activities, go to www.cavehillconservation.org
Lord Mayor with White Stone plaque