C 473 264
In a field
1.6 km NNE of the village of Muff, stands a rectangular, grooved
block 2.1 metres high, and decorated on the S face with around
40 cupmarks of which about half are surrounded by 1, 2 or 3
km WNW in Eskaheen (C 451 271) is a collapsed portal-tomb
whose huge 5 by 4 metre capstone covered a very small chamber
and was originally held up by portal-stones (now prostrate)
which were 2.4 metres high.
the early 20th century at least, the capstone of this tomb was
still resting on stout portal stones and the chamber walls seemed
to be upright. Now one side of the chamber has collapsed beneath
the weight of the 4-metre capstone, which has also slipped from
the portal stones. The stones from the other wall have been
pushed outwards. Worse, however is that the tomb now stands
in the rear garden of a bungalow, which has been built just
2 metres in front of the portal. To add insult to injury one
of the portal stones has been secured upright by a nasty looking
blob of concrete, "enhanced" by having mussel shells
pressed into it. A loose scatter of shells, presumably taken
from Binanea Strand which the tomb overlooks, has been placed
in front of the low doorstone.The gallery is around 3 metres
long and just over 1 metre wide. The portal stones are 1.8 metres
tall with a half-doorstone in between. The central axis is aligned
nearly east-west with the entrance facing south of east towards
7.3 km ENE is the portal-tomb at Errarooey Beg (see under
Ballymunterhiggin: Centre-court tomb
G 878 592
This extensive but
sadly-unprotected tomb lies in a grass-grown cairn 45 metres
long, 2 km south of Ballyshannon and some 500 metres across
fields from the nearest road. The oval court has 2 two-chambered
galleries, one with a lintel-stone in situ. Two subsidiary
chambers are opposite the narrow entrance on the S side of the
court, and a third subsidiary chamber opens into the court immediately
W of the entrance. The tomb is greatly threatened by erosion
from the hooves of hungry cattle.
~ About 8 km W, in
Magheracar, is a small cliff-top passage-tomb - see under
Wardhouse, county Leitrim.
Barnes Lower: Decorated standing-stones
C 107 245
standing-stones under a metre apart stand immediately E of a
by-road leading towards Crockmore. The larger one, a massive
slab over 1.8 metres square, has many cup-marks (some with large
rings) and wide, shallow grooves on its E face. The smaller
one, shaped like a spearhead, has cupmarks and a cross (a relic
of Penal times ?) on its W face. Both faces are lit simultaneously
in late morning.
~ In the
same townland (C 122 263), on high ground overlooking Lough
Salt, is a three-stone row whose highest stone is 1.2 metres.
metres N of the stones is an interesting but overgrown court-tomb
with long lateral galleries set transversely to the main gallery.
5.2 km ENE of the standing-stones, at Carrownaganonagh
(C 159 256) is a small wedge-tomb. From the field-gate it looks
a bit like a sweathouse - but
it is actually a narrow mound containing a narrow chamber roofed
with a single stone.A narrow opening at one end leads into the
gallery, which is 3 metres long and 1 metre wide. A small chock-stone
has been inserted to keep the roofstone level.
~ 6 km
SSE in the main street of Kilmacrenan (at the bottom
of the hill in a laneway on the left-hand side, going down the
hill towards the bridge: C 141 204) is an egg-shaped bullaun
stone, with a 30 cm basin at the fatter end, and a much smaller
depression near the other.
km SE in Letter "The Labba Rocks" (C 165 197) are a court-tomb
in a wedge-shaped cairn, sited near the top of a hill and affording
fine views. Many kerbstones survive, and roofstones are strewn
The word letter in Irish (leitir) means a rock-littered
slope or hillside.
Farther SE again in Cloghroe (C 134 007) is a roofless
portal-tomb whose west-facing entrance stones are 3 metres high.
One of them is leaning against the other, whose inner edge has
been 'trimmed' or 'shaved' so that the lower part is smooth
and vertical. The tomb is next to the road on a small, raised
prominence that overlooks a shallow valley to the south. There
is possibly some of the original cairn material under the grass
on the north side of the tomb, but this could be a build-up
of soil that has washed down the slope and built up against
the remaining stones.
Three other stones survive: the back-stone and two wall-stones
on the N side. There is a gap between the wall stones and the
door-stone, which suggests that there were probably three stones
in each wall. This unusual feature, together with the gabling
of the back-stone shows the link between court- and portal-tombs.
Carnaghan: Portal-tomb C
Sheets 6 and 7
W of a road-junction on the former island of Inch, the portal-stones
of this tomb-among-the-trees are very impressive at over 2.5
metres high - although the roofstone is gone. Behind these is
a large, secondary kist-chamber about 1 metre deep, covered
by a capstone 2.4 by 1.8 metres which sits on several variously-sized
chocking-stones. A couple of side-stones (one fallen) and some
of the cairn (greatly reduced by ploughing) survive.
superb landscape and in the middle of Doon Lough (boats can
sometimes be hired), one of many thousands of Irish crannógs
(small artificial island-refuges) has sprouted an impressive
stone fort, partly-restored. It is terraced with steps on the
inside and has wall-passages which may be original. The walls
(3.6 metres thick at the base) stand to 4.5 metres high. From
the mainland a fine view can be obtained of the S side of the
fort and its damaged entrance. It is also known as O'Boyle's
Fort, and The Bawan.
800 metres WNW on an island in Lough Birrog, up a stone-flagged
causeway leading from the shore, is another (ruined) stone fort.
Farranmacbride: Centre-court tomb G
is famous for its turas, or devotional pattern
on the 9th of June, along a given route which is punctuated
by stations. Most of the stations feature beautiful early-christian
cross-slabs and cairns, but two are in fact megalithic tombs.
The one in Farranmacbride (part of the ninth station, 400 metres
N of the church of Glencolumbcille), close to a perforated standing-stone
"through which Heaven may be glimpsed" by the pure - or devout
- "and barren women made fertile", is a huge ruined court-tomb,
some of whose chambers have been used as livestock pens.
Also known as (The) Munnernamortee Cave, two large twin-chambered
galleries open on to a central court about 21 metres in diameter
(the biggest in Ireland) - most of whose orthostats are missing.
The SW area of the court is crossed by a sunken track. Three
subsidiary chambers are set around the court, occurring more
or less where the façades of facing single-court tombs
would have ended. This tomb seems to be one of the many "experimental"
or "culturally-diverse" in the NW, and has some similarities
with those at Tullyskeherny in county Leitrim. The cairn
is an amazing 60 metres long and stretches over two fields.
A line along the axes of the two galleries passes directly through
Station 2 of the turas (100 metres down the road from
the church), which is a 3-metre high rock-outcrop with a cross
pillar on its summit. Such rock-outcrops occur at or near many
court-tombs and obviously had great significance.
and winter photographs of W and E galleries.
known as Bocan stone circle, only seven stones still stand out
of at least 12 reported in the early 19th century. They are
between 1 and 2 metres high and now form two arcs. There are
also several fallen and broken stones which partially enclose
an area about 20 metres in diameter, whose centre is the remains
of a cairn. It seems that it was once a smaller version of Tops
(see below) also known as Beltany - a cairn with a kerb
of standing stones around its circumference. The stones on the
west side are smaller, not reaching higher than 1.5 metres.The
site faces W.
About 800 metres SSW in Laraghirril are the impressive
remains of a court-tomb which lacks a court but whose gallery
is well preserved. At the E end a pair of double jambs less
than 1 metre high seem to mark the entrance. The gallery is
about 9 metres long and is divided by high jambs and a double
sill into two chambers of roughly equal length and about 2.5
metres wide. The back stone of the inner chamber is missing.
Vestiges of the cairn remain.
and Grania were two illicit lovers who eloped and slept in a
different wild place every night. This picturesque "Dermot and
Grania's Bed" (different from every side) has a chamber of 5
slabs set on edge (one fallen), and covered by a slipped (and
characteristically tilted) roofstone 3.6 metres long, which
is raised 2 metres off the ground by the portal-stones. There
are 5 cupmarks on the upper surface. The views from the site
are splendid: Mulroy Bay is just visible to the NW, while to
the NE Knockalla Mountain looks like a sleeping giant.
km ENE in a boggy field next to a road in Drumhallagh Upper
is a court-tomb (C 276 318) whose 10-metre long gallery has
two chambers, the rear one looking very like a wrecked portal-tomb.
No roofstones are in place, but the many stones strewn about
are remains of the kerb of a vanished trapezoidal cairn.
of Ailech: Stone fort
C 366 197
over-restored in the last century, this fine fort (also known
as The Greenan, and Grianán Ailighe) offers magnificent
views of Loughs Foyle and Swilly and the countryside round about
from its position on top of Greenan Mountain. This is one of
several monuments to be (latterly at any rate) associated with
the sun (Grian in Irish). Around the imposing stone wall
(up to 4.5 metres thick and 5 metres high) are the remains of
3 earthworks which presumably pre-date the fort, which may have
been built as late as the 6th century. The walls were only 1.8
metres high before enthusiastic restoration was carried out;
there were originally 2, not 4, stairways, and the terracing
is obviously wrongly reconstructed. There are 2 wall-galleries
entered from within the fort, which was the seat of the O'Neill
sept of Aileach from maybe the 5th to the 12th century, and
is mentioned in the Annals of Ulster as late as 1100 C.E.
via a grassy lane behind Kilclooney Church, the larger of the
two portal-tombs changes shape as you go round it: now a Mexican
hat on legs, now a wingless bird or Concorde aircraft. Portal-stones
1.8 metres high support a massive roofstone 6 metres across.
Between the backstone and the roofstone is a fine example of
a chocking-stone set to get the characteristic angle of tilt
just right. The small tomb, at the other end of the remains
of a long cairn, still has 2 sidestones, an inset backstone
and one portal-stone, and is roofed with a horizontal slab.
Both tombs have low sillstones at the entrance to E-facing chambers,
but are not built on the same axis. However, the larger tomb,
the smaller tomb and a large standing stone 40 metres away do
form a straight line.
metres W by N, 60 metres E of the road, is a court-tomb with
corbelling on part of the S side, and one of 2 displaced lintels
still spanning the gallery.
800 metres SW (G 713 962) is another small, roofed portal-tomb.
5 km SSE and 1 km N of Ardara village is Owenea standing-stone,
a massive block some 3.5 metres high in a scraggy field behind
km NE in Toome, close to the N tip of Toome Lough is
"Dermot and Grania's Bed" (B 791 015), a long cairn incorporating
two portal-tombs, some 10 metres apart. The larger of these
faces E into the cairn and has portal-stones 2 metres high flanking
a door-stone 1.2 metres high. The slipped capstone is partly
supported by exterior corbels outside the low sidestones. The
backstone is gabled: a feature of many court-tombs. The roofstone
and doorstone are of limestone, while the rest are of granite.
The other tomb also faces E, is more ruinous, but has massive
the neighbouring field is a stone about 80 cm high with an inscribed,
equal-armed cross about 25 cm square. It is greatly worn but
there appear to be T-bar terminals on the arms of the cross
and a triangular terminal on the shaft.
Wedge-tomb, Standing-stone and rock-scribings (petroglyphs)
C 434 498
over 100 metres N of a by-road running E towards Malin, this
interesting "Giant's House" - more suitable for a hardy dwarf
than a giant - has a grass-covered, wedge-shaped roofstone over
2.5 metres long and 1.2 metres wide, covering a long, low wedge-shaped
chamber bounded by 2 long sidestones, a backstone, and a massive
single door-stone pierced by a hole 15 cms in diameter and 18
cms deep, obviously cut from both sides of the slab. "When there
was thunder and lightning, the giant (or ogre or dwarf) went
in, put his finger through the hole and pulled the door to."
It seems unlikely that there was a portico or antechamber in
front of the door-slab.
metres SSE, near the shore (C 433 495) is a standing-stone 1.4
~ In the
next field W of the standing-stone (C 426 500) are four separate
rock-surfaces decorated with cups and rings, parallel grooves,
cups and gapped-rings with radial grooves, and 'cartouche' motifs.
Unfortunately most of them were wantonly destroyed in 1988,
like the Ballinloughan petroglyphs in county Louth.
1000 metres WNW of Magheranaul wedge-tomb, to the right of a
lane (C 416 506 in the townland of Carrowreagh or Craignacally)
is "The Altar" or "Mass Rock", a semi-circular thin slab whose
SE face is covered in deeply-incised cross-motifs, which some
think to be prehistoric reworkings of existing fissures deepened
by weathering. This stone used to be near the petroglyphs mentioned
above, but was transported in the iniquitous 'Penal' times to
be used as a Mass Rock for the practice of illegal "Papist"
rites which could earn the devout a horrible voyage to Australia.
include Norse motifs from Iceland.
~ 6.8 km E in in
Templemoyle (C 502 498) is a collapsed but picturesque
portal-tomb with fine views to the W towards Magheranaul and
SW to the impressive Slieve Snaght. The sidestones and backstone
of the small chamber are still in place, but the capstone
has tipped forward because one of the portal stones has been
taken away and the other leans at an angle. The stick in the
picture below is 1 metre high.
~ 5.2 km SW, at Cloontagh
(C 397 455) is "Cloghtogle", a curious boulder over 2 metres
high and over 3 metres square is supported on small chocking
stones at two points and on bedrock at a third.
More: Court-tomb, Portal-tombs, etc.
G 518 826
from a car-park (through a small gate and across a footbridge
across a stream, which in turn allows access to a narrow concrete
path across the bog to the marshy court entrance) is Cloghanmore,
a remarkable court-tomb, whose court is defined by sweeping
arcs that extend in an oval from the unusual twin and parallel
galleries that face the entrance. A large stone lies oddly in
the centre of the court partially blocking the initial view
of the gallery entrances. The court is marked partly by orthostats
and partly by dry-walling, indicating an intermediary state
between an open forecourt and a full-court. In front of the
left-hand gallery is a gabled lintel-stone - which would have
looked similar to the one at Shalwy when in place.
to the left of the entrance, built into the fabric of the (restored)
cairn is a subsidiary chamber, the roofstone of which is propped
up gainst its front. To the right of the entrance is a second
one with its roofstone almost in place.
each of these chambers is a stone with engravings in passage-tomb
style - a unique occurrence at a court-tomb.
in midwinter the sun actually rides along a ridge of the mountains
to the S - and shines directly into the second chamber mentioned
above. Looking southeast from the tomb along the valley another
fine phenomenon presents itself: the tip of Lergadaghtan protrudes
just above the slope north of Slieve League, giving a likely
sunrise alignment at mid-winter solstice. Exhaustive observations
need to be made at this site.
nearby resident recalled that one Christmas Eve she saw lights
at the tomb, and thought that the fairies had come for her.
She turned off her lights and closed her door and windows, and
sat in her chair until dawn broke. Then she went next door to
tell her neighbour of her vigil and how frightened she had been.
The neighbour had moved there from Germany and was unfamiliar
with 'fairy lore'. She said she had felt so sorry for those
poor dead people with no one to remember them that she had gone
across the road and lit candles for them - a charming tradition
in France as well as Germany. Read more on the Voices
from the Dawn website.
west from Cloghanmore, still in the townland of Malin
More, in a field on the right-hand side of the road, past a
visitor centre are two standing stones, situated 400 metres
NNW of Cloghanmore (G 517 830). The taller is over 2 metres
high and the other around 1.5 metres.
km to the W of Cloghanmore lie six very different, ruined
or cairn-covered portal-tombs (G 502 825) in a line over 90
metres long, which may all have been covered by one enormous
cairn. One of them has a (fallen) 40-tonne roofstone. The usual
associated stream winds its way to the sea through the field
on the north side of the track. The westernmost tomb is the
best preserved, but still difficult to imagine in its heyday.
The two end tombs are mimicked quite pathetically by two houses
that are built at either end of the row. Just before a white
and green house is a standing stone that seems to be an extension
of the line of portal tombs, and a beautiful quartzite block
can be seen built into the field wall near to the west end of
the row. It has definitely been worked by man and was probably
a standing stone associated with this massive monument.
km ENE of Cloghanmore (and still in Malin More townland),
built into a large drystone wall in a farmyard next to a
single-storey house is a portal-tomb (G 517 831), whose large
capstone rests against the single remaining upright, which is
leaning at 45 degrees. This would have originally stood at a
height of over 3 metres. One of the side stones of the chamber
is also present but not in situ.
NE is the centre-court tomb at Farranmacbride.
C 121 396 Sheet
on the shore and by the roadside on the E side of the Rosguill
peninsula (marked "Rock Art" on the map) this is one
of the earliest-recorded petroglyphs.
between two rocky ridges overlooking Dunfanaghy, with a fine
view across to Errigal and Muckish mountains, about 400 m NW
of a by-road leading towards Croaghamaddy Hill at the point
where it leaves the water's edge and climbs the hill, this tomb
retains a good deal of its cairn. It is also known as The
Dane's Cove, and Diarmuid/Dermot and Grania's Bed.
Between the two tall portal-stones (2.5 metres high) is a doorstone
which closes the chamber. The sides and back are formed by single
slabs - one over 3 metres long. One of two roofstones - a table-like
horizontal slab rests on 2 corbels (one displaced) on each sidestone.
The other, slightly larger roofstone has been displaced and
now leans against the W portal-stone.
km NW in Claggan is a court-tomb (C 003 400) now incorporated
into the wall of one of a pair of large oval enclosures. There
are several stones remaining of the north arm of the court and
two large jambs lead into a gallery some seven metres long,
aligned northwest-southeast (with the entrance at the northwest)
on the hill of Cashelmore whose top has been levelled to accommodate
a hill-fort or cashel. Quite a lot of the cairn survives. From
the site are fine views, notably of the round-topped Crockshee,
or Hill of the Spirits whose slopes are dotted with prehistoric
walls, enclosures and small cairns.
km SW is a portal-tomb in Errarooey Beg (B 963 342) which
must have been beautiful before its partial collapse. Both portal
stones still stand just 1.4 metres high, but are slightly pushed
forward by the capstone that now leans against them. The half-height
doorstone leans out even further and makes the tomb look as
though it's poking its tongue out at you as you approach. The
most interesting feature is the capstone which leans against
the east side giving the impression that that was the back of
the tomb, but it is more likely that the entrance faced east.
The stone is covered with dozens of small cupmarks.
to the west and northwest take in the Atlantic Ocean and to
the southeast Muckish Mountain and its neighbour, Aghla Beg,
make a fine pair of features that lead the eye to Aghla More
and Errigal Mountain to the south.
and Croaghbeg: Full-court tombs
G 646 750
fine court-tombs stand close together in adjacent townlands,
about 300 metres W of a road junction. Both have fine megalithic
lintelled portals and two-chambered galleries. Much of the cairns
survives. The Shalwy tomb (Muinner Carn) is well-enough
preserved to show careful construction with good joints between
the portal-stones and sidestones, so that the chambers of the
gallery is not unlike a small ruined stone house of recent date.
In the front chamber lies the prostrate door-slab. The lintel
is double, and the top stone is gabled. The gallery is roofed
by large slabs resting on corbels.
SW, The Portabane Carn in Croaghbeg has a fine court
of handsome orthostats set close together and decreasing in
height towards the extremities. The gallery is also impressive,
with massive back-and side-stone corbels, lintels and jambs.
On the N side of the court is a single subsidiary chamber with
jambs and backstone, and, as in the gallery, sill-stones between
the jambs. An interesting feature of the court is the double
coursing of the stones nearest the entrance, matching the height
of the impressive lintel. The tomb is a fine experiment in the
development of Irish court-tombs. From Croaghbeg there is a
fine view S over Donegal Bay to King's Mountain, Ben Bulben,
Knocknarea: an area of county Sligo rich in megaliths as well
~ 8 km ENE at Cashelcummin
are the sad remains of another full-court tomb (G 706 766, facing
the opposite direction to those at Croaghbeg and Shalwy), which
also had a massive lintel on fine entrance-jambs, behind which
corbelling and several roof-slabs were still in place over the
2 chambers. The tomb has since been largely (and illegally)
destroyed in the building of a driveway to a modern bungaloid
~ A few
hundred metres NW of Cashelcummin (G 701 774) is a half-buried
wedge-tomb at Largynagreana, whose well-preserved gallery
is about 4.5 metres long. At the W (front) end is a small antechamber,
about 80 cms deep, separated from the main chamber by a septal
stone. There are four orthostats visible on either side of the
gallery and these decrease in height from W to E. The capstone
of the main chamber is about 3 metres long and is largely covered
with sods of grass.
km E, on the E side of Killybegs Harbour, in Carricknamoghil
is a damaged court-tomb (G 727 803) with a track running
through its twenty-metre-long cairn, and some bungaloid homes
surrounding it. The remains of the main gallery are 5 metres
long. There are a few stones remaining from the court in front
of this gallery and another chamber lies to the west. This could
be a second full gallery indicating that this was a full court
tomb with opposing galleries or, more likely, it could be a
subsidiary chamber that was built into the arms of a full court
near to its entrance.
km E by N, and N of Dunkineely in Casheltown (G 768 775),
about 200 metres E of a by-road at a conifer plantation, up
a steep path, is a ?triple wedge-tomb. Three parallel galleries,
one metre apart, aligned roughly NNE-SSW, and each with a surviving
roofstone, are enclosed by what survives of a single cairn-kerb,
10 metres in diameter, some of whose remaining stones are erect
rather than recumbent. Although there is a signpost in Dunkineely
for this remarkable site, there are no further indications of
where it is.
note the large flat chocking-stone supporting
a roof-slab on the largest of the three galleries
H 113 724
400 metres E of Lough Nashannagh, the two-chambered tomb has
a fine lintel (with a small chocking-stone) over the low entrance,
and some large slab-like corbels survive. Only one court-stone
can be seen; others may be buried in the cairn-spill which half-fills
the court area. The tomb was intact at the beginning of the
20th century, but, as with so many megalithic tombs, the stones
were wantonly removed by hunters of small mammals. (This of
course also happened in France during the second World War,
when the Resistance maquisards were in hiding and hungry.)
The nearest source of stone for the tomb is nearly 2 km SE.
km E by S, in county Fermanagh, is Drumskinny stone circle
Stone Circle and Round Cairn
C 254 003
via a farm lane leading W from a by-road running due S from
Raphoe, this fine early circle (perhaps contemporaneous with,
or a little earlier than, Ballynoe, Down)
has over 60 surviving stones which vary in height from 1 metre
to over 2 metres high, looking like a jagged crown. This is
the kerb of a much reduced cairn (vestiges of which survive
in the centre), and is similar to kerbed boulder-circles at
Carrowmore in Sligo. Also known as Beltany, it
is prominently sited on a hilltop, and affords wide views. Well
outside the ring to the SE is an outlier 1.8 metres tall. From
the high pillarstone at the WSW of the circle a cupmarked triangular
slab at the ENE marks the point where the sun rises on May Day
(Bealtaine or 'Beltany'). Another stone also has cup-marks,
and there are two standing stones close by behind the woods
to the East.
km SE, across the Deele river in Kilmonaster (C 273 977)
is a largely-destroyed megalithic complex of at least eight
tombs originally, including a cruciform passage-tomb situated
on a low ridge. Surviving parts of the kerb of quartz blocks
indicate an original cairn-diameter of 22 metres. 150 metres
WSW is a ruined chamber with its capstone displaced: probably
the remains of another passage-tomb. The capstone has dozens
of shallow cup-marks on it. 'A large quantity of human bones'
was dug out in I839. Due E, on the top of Croaghan hill is another
Just under 12 km W in Magheravall (C 134 007) immediately
N of a minor road are the remains of a court-tomb, whose two
portal-stones stand about 1.5 metres high - one leaning on the
A further 7.5 km W in Meenbog is another ruined court-tomb
(C 059 010) still largely sunk in peat, but nicely situated
on top of a small hill with fine views of the mountains to the
Standing-stone and stone forts (cashels)
G 890 648
on the Two Mile Ridge beside a track (neither track nor monuments
are marked on the map), a leaning monolith some 2.5 metres high
may be associated (but not necessarily contemporaneous) with
remains of ancient field-walls, stone walls, low mounds of stones
etc. A cashel
(probably an ancient cattle-enclosure) is incorporated in the
field-system, and there is another one (perhaps a fortified
farm) not far away. In a marshy hollow to the E is a pair of
small standing-stones, one flat-topped and one pointed: female
and male. This site seems to have been in use from at least
Bronze Age to mediæval times.
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