Banagher: Passage-tomb, etc.
N 466 998
A wrecked chamber is
surrounded by a partly-ruined kerb measuring some 10 metres
in diameter. A niche or recess (two sidestones and a backstone)
of the chamber survives, and the passage seems to have faced
N towards Slieve Glah. A recumbent stone is decorated.
A few metres N of the
kerb is a henge whose fosse (ditch) is clearly visible and whose
banks are up to 1.5 metres high.
~ To the SE in the
same townland (N 471 997) are the remains of a small portal-tomb
whose one remaining portal stone is just 1 metre tall. The chamber
is just 1 metre square, and the capstone lies to one side of
the tomb, behind which is a pile of stones. Local hearsay has
it that the capstone was thrown off the tomb by a local he-man
for a bet. Whether this is a true story or the folkloric remnant
of a legend of giants is anyone's guess: the site, like many
others, is known as "The Giant's Grave".
~ At N 470 997 are
the remains of a court-tomb destroyed well within living memory
by a farmer who wanted to plant a hedge, seemingly unaware of
the tomb on his own land. A couple of the stones from the tomb
can still be seen in the hedge, notably a fine pointed specimen
which was probably the backstone of the gallery.
~ 7.5 km SSW is a portal-tomb
at Aghawee (N 437 928). Somewhat obscured by brambles,
the chamber of the tomb is some 1.5 metres high. The capstone
is broken in two, and has been replaced since it was removed
to free a trapped calf. The stone leaning against the tomb on
the left of the photo below does not belong to the structure,
or is not in its original position.
~ 8.3 km S in Carrickacroy (N 459 915), behind a farmhouse
and next to two conglomerate stones that are larger than the
tomb itself, is a tiny portal-tomb whose chamber is just 1 metre
long by 50 cms wide and 80 cms high. One of the portal stones
still stands, but the other is lying to one side - probably
knocked over when the capstone was tipped off in the same direction.
There is a small doorstone, and a slightly-gabled backstone
which slopes forwards, supported by the two diminutive side
stones. It would be very easy to rebuild this miniature megalith.
It is amazing that it has survived to the extent that it has.
Wedge-tombs, portal-tomb, etc.
H 080 350
on the thumbnail for a larger picture
Approached from a
track running into dreary conifer plantation, "The Giant's
Grave" is a fine, large and well-preserved example with
a gallery over 7 metres long, divided by a high septal slab
into a long portico and a large main chamber. The gallery is
covered by 5 roofstones, 3 of which cover the main chamber,
and one of which has chock-stones. The front capstone has a
series of depressions which may be artificial cup-marks. Two
of the front orthostats of the façade lean together to form
a triangular entrance to the antechamber. The septal slab has
a gap at the bottom of the N end which seems artificial. The
tomb resembles some of the large gallery-tombs (allées-couvertes)
of France, and is well worth the trouble of the search.
It can also be approached from the county Fermanagh side, via
a lane leading SW from the 'Marlbank Scenic Loop' to the forest
comes from the Irish for a stony place, and is a not-uncommon
place-name. This tomb is not in THE Burren of county Clare,
where there are dozens of typical Irish wedge-tombs.
~ The stones visible
on the skyline to the S of the wedge-tomb (H 082 350) are the
jagged remains of a court-tomb in Legalough - including
half the forecourt, good entrance-jambs and a sill-stone. 100
metres W is another wedge-tomb, more typically Irish than that
in Burren, and affording splendid views, but with no roofstones.
km SSW of Legalough in Mullaghboy (H 070 330) In a field
behind a large earthfast rock with a large slab leaning against
it, is a court-tomb fairly good condition, and with much cairn
material around the very overgrown gallery. The court is at
the west end of the long cairn and is somewhat confusing, because
the stones don't seem to form a definite shape. It is possible
that there is a second, shallow court built across the original
tombs lurk in the townland of Burren, including (H 077 345)
an almost intact wedge-like portal-tomb with a three-metre high
cairn; and another portal-tomb at H 075 352, with two enormous
outward-splaying portal-stones and a low door-stone. The gap
above the door has been bricked up. One of the chamber walls
has disappeared and the enormous, thin slab that was the capstone
now leans against the other chamber wall. Half of the triangular
gap formed by this is also bricked up, leaving a little doorway.
This is reminiscent of the tombs of the French causses
which have been made into shepherd-huts. It is known as The
Calf-House, because it was part of a farmstead.
At H 074 353 (some 500 metres WNW of The Giant's Grave
on Tullygobban Hill) is a fairly large wedge-tomb whose gallery
is about 10 metres long and 2 metres wide. Many of the structural
stones have been removed, but it is impressive even so. There
are two large entrance stones, and some side slabs remaining
in the front section of the gallery.
rear of the tomb is far more imposing with two large (but
broken) roof slabs in place, the larger being over 2 metres
square. Around the rear wall slabs there are a few small stones
which may be very diminutive or vestigial double walling.
Other stones 3 metres or so from the rear of the gallery may
be the remains of the kerb.
from the rear
At H 075 353 there is a boulder-burial. Click the above
picture to see it.
- and long since my last visit to the area - a signposted
megalithic trail through
the forest has been established, indicating
many interesting features. Besides the tombs mentioned above
are mediæval enclosures, a promontory fort, many hut
sites, a boulder burial and natural features such as glacial
erratics. Although the sites are signposted there are no information
boards. A booklet on the trail is locally available and can
be read on this CD ROM by clicking on the above link to 'The
km ENE is Clyhannagh court-tomb, see under Kilrooskagh
portal-tomb, county Fermanagh.
H 643 124
on the thumbnail for a ground-level view
example of a double- (or dual-) court tomb, 5.6 km ESE of Cootehill,
built as two single-court tombs back-to-back, standing in a
rectangular cairn 25 metres long. Each semicircular forecourt
(N and S) leads into a 2-chambered gallery with sill-stones
and jambs. A fifth chamber has been contrived in the space between
the ends of each gallery. Stone pegs in the forecourts mark
post-holes, suggesting an awning over the ceremonial spaces.
N 354 924
Close to the road 6.4
km SSW of Ballinagh (Bellanalagh), this tomb has suffered greatly
in recent times. Firstly a concrete shed was built beside it.
Then a sidestone was removed to free a calf which had become
trapped inside the polygonal chamber. This caused the capstone
(almost two metres square) to slip. The sidestone was replaced
by order of the parish priest, but commitment did not extend
to the effort required to re-instate the slipped capstone -
and, since then, the concrete shed has given way to a pretentious
modern dwelling which intimidates the already-mutilated megalith.
got similarly trapped in a fine portal-tomb at Aghawee
(8.4 km E) and the fine capstone, already broken in two, was
hurled on the ground in order to free the beast. In Ireland
cattle are the only true 'heritage': the bovine is almost divine.
than 800 metres to the W, behind a house on the E side of a
by-road, in Middletown, is another "Druid's Altar"
with a capstone 1.7 metres long and portal stones one metre
apart and the usual 1.8 metres high. It is, however, partly
obscured by bushes and littered around, as much of Ireland,
by domestic refuse. The
wallstones of the chamber are about 1.5 metres long and 1 metre
tall, thus setting the capstone at severe angle. The back-stone
is missing. The capstone has been broken, and the portion extending
beyond the portal-stones has gone. My colleague Tom FourWinds
reports that you can tell this from the notches in the side-stones
made to hold the capstone, which still sits comfortably in the
V-shaped hollows. This piece of megalithic ingenuity was devised
to stop the steeply-inclined capstone from slipping back.
see under Lisnadarragh in county Monaghan
N 473 919
3.2 km ENE of Kilnaleck,
90 metres to the S of a by-road leading to Ballyjamesduff, this
tomb is impressive despite partial wrecking. The large capstone
is nearly 2.4 metres long, and has tipped into the chamber.
One of the sidestones has collapsed, and one of the portal-stones
is missing. The remaining portal-stone is the usual 1.8 metres
high, and the door-slab is still in position.
H 334 069
This dual-court tomb
is well-preserved and well-signposted in a sylvan setting. The
northern tomb has a court 4 metres wide and 3 metres deep leading
to a 4 metre-long gallery divided into two chambers by a low
jamb. The southern tomb is very similar. There is a gap of a
whole 12 metres between the galleries, making the whole structure
nearly 30 metres long. Neither cairn nor roofstones survive.
6 km SE is a ruined dual-court tomb at Drumhart (H
277 025) which I have not yet visited.
km NW are the stones and circles at Killycluggin.
H 059 378
Close to the shore
of Lough Macnean to the N of the road to Sligo, this site may
well go back to pre-Neolithic times. Not far from the ruins
of a megalithic tomb known as "St Brigid's House", and beyond
the modern graveyard, is a large boulder ("St Brigid's
Stone") with 2 smaller ones containing 16 hemispherical
depressions known as bullauns
(hollows), measuring from 15 to 30 cms in diameter,
and each holding a smooth rounded or oval pebble or pestle.
These stones are known as "cursing-stones" though they might
just as well be "curing-stones". In recent folklore, the stones
were turned anti-clockwise while a spell or a curse was put
upon someone - but if there was no just cause the curse would
rebound upon the curser. The original ritual or ceremonial function
of such stones will probably never be known. They are aways
associated with Christian sites, though obviously pre-date them
- as of course do Holy Wells.
click on the image for a larger picture
~ 4.4 km ENE, on the other side of Lough Macnean Lower, in county
Fermanagh is a fine triple-bullaun at ruined Templenaffrin
church, which is visible to the NW of the Enniskillen-Belcoo
Stone circles and Standing-stones
H 241 158
decorated with a continuous curvilinear pattern in the Celtic
'La Tène' style, and set outside the circular
kerb of a large megalithic structure, was removed in 1975 to
the National Museum, and is now in the Cavan County Museum in
Ballyjamesduff. It has been replaced by a roadside 'replica'.
large parallel slabs of the megalithic structure, originally
some 30 metres in diameter, now survive. In the adjacent townlands
, as well as in Killycluggin itself - covering over a square
kilometre mainly N of the road to Kilnavert hamlet - are several
standing-stones and ruined boulder-circles on the tops of hillocks
(drumlins) - some with ruined burial-chambers inside. One of
the best circles is at H 239 160.
metres SW of the Killycluggin replica, in Kilnavert (H
232 155) is wedge-tomb surrounded by trees. The remains of the
gallery are set in a round platform, which is the remains of
the round cairn that once covered the tomb. A single large roofstone
still covers the remains of the gallery. Some double-walling
has survived, remnants of the façade, and a stone which
may be the all that remains of the kerb.
to the S is a square standing-stone about 2 metres tall, in
the middle of a field.
~ 500 metres NW of
the replica, in Lissanover (H 235 163) is an alignment
of three pointed stones, the highest being 2 metres high and
the centre stone fallen.
~ 3.5 km SSW in Derrycassan
(H 229 126), at the base of an east facing slope just 300 metres
N of the southern end of the link between Derrycassan and Coologe
Loughs, is a rectangular bullaun stone with a single 25 cm diameter
bullaun. There are also four very shallow cupmarks set in an
arc around the eastern edge of the bullaun. This is unusual
(if not unique) in Ireland, though there are several examples
Tradition relates that one of the 'stone idols' known as Crom
Cruach (apparently a pillar-stone, possibly phallic like
the Turoe Stone) was hereabouts in the Barony of Breifne. Crom
means crooked, stooping or hunchback, and Cruach means
a heap or pile. Crom Cruach is also identified as a Celtic
Pluto or Hades - see under Kilrooskagh, Fermanagh,
and Lough Gur, Limerick,
for other Crom Cruach. The Killycluggin Crom Cruach
was one of three great oracle-stones in Ireland, the others
being the Lía Fáil at Tara, Meath
and the Cloch Óir or 'stone
of gold', which gives its name to the important cult-centre
of Clogher in county Tyrone.
For more on this contentious subject see wikipedia.
6 km E in the grounds of the Slieve Russell Hotel (H 289 166)
near Ballyconnell is a a fine example of a wedge tomb, formerly
at Aughrim on the south east side of Slieve Rushen, but
moved to and reconstructed at the Slieve Russell Hotel before
quarrying in 1992. A 6 metre long gallery lies is within a low
round cairn, which is retained by a kerb. The stones along the
gallery are supported by buttressing stones and at the west
end is a tall stone that splits the entrance to the gallery.
There is a small portico area before the main chamber. Both
burnt and unburt bones, as well as Early Bronze Age pottery
were found during the excavation prior to the monument's removal.
Three small stone lined boxes or kists were later placed inside
~ 13 km
SE is the dual-court tomb at Gartanoul.
Stone forts and Portal-tomb
H 058 340
of 3 stone forts (cashels) in the townland is nearly 800 metres
N of a former schoolhouse, and best approached through a farm
400 metres further on, and up a lane. It has a well-preserved
lintelled entrance and unusual external stone stairs. Inside
are two other stairways. The wall survives up to 3 metres and
encloses an area 25 metres in diameter. 450 metres SW, on a
rise, is a smaller ruined cashel with a fine, corbelled free-standing
Sweathouse just inside
There are many sweathouses in the area surrounding Lough Allen
- most of them marked on the Discovery (Southern) maps
- of which one of the most accessible is 1 km NE of Moneygashel
cashel at Legeelan (H 066 340).
250 metres ENE of the stone fort (and up the hill) is the
Portal-tomb (GPS: H 06072 34023), which looks as if
it might have been used as calf-pen like the one at Burren
(1.8 km NE). In front of the chamber there is a low drystone
wall with a lintelled gap that allows entry inside.
The capstone is four metres square, and now rests on the rubble
at the rear and on the sole remaining portal stone at the
front. There is at least one side stone visible inside and
a few of the larger stones within might be the remains of
other structural parts. The portal stone is well over 3 metres
tall - so when the capstone was in place the would have been
impressive. The tomb affords splendid views. The photo below
shows the original entrance.
H 466 077
hidden in conifer forest now cleared, "Finn McCoul's
Fingers" are at a height of 180 metres on the N slope of
Shantemon Hill. The alignment is about 20 metres long, with
a NE-SW axis. Four stones still stand, the tallest being 1.8
metres high, plus another which has fallen. The stones hosted
Lughnasa (Lammas) celebrations on Bilberry Sunday in
On the hill-top (H 464 075) are the remains of the first Vitrified
Fort to be reported in Ireland, and nearby is the inauguration
site of the O'Reilly war-lords of East Breifne, marked by
a 'Foal's Foot' imprint in a rock-outcrop.
for more pictures