SELECTED MONUMENTS IN
COUNTY ROSCOMMON

Place-names in italics refer to listed entries.



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Castlestrange: Decorated "Celtic cult-stone"
M 820 597
Sheet 40

This beautiful egg-shaped stone, similar in material (granite) and style ("La Tène" curvilinear) to the phallic one at Turoe in county Galway, lies beside the avenue in Castlestrange Demesne (private estate), 2.4 km NW of Athleague. Sixty cms high and 90 cms long it is decorated all over with a continuous swirling pattern which is engraved rather than carved in relief like the Turoe stone. Since I first saw it in 1971 it has sadly deteriorated due to national neglect.


Drumanone: Portal-tomb
G 767 023
Sheet 33

In a field immediately N of the Sligo-Mullingar railway, to the N of the Boyle-Tobercurry road, this tomb (also known as 'Tinnacarra Dolmen') comprises a polygonal chamber and a huge roofstone measuring 4.5 by 3.8 metres, which has slipped back from unusually high (2.4 metres) portal stones, between which is a massive doorstone entirely blocking the entrance. The sides of the chamber are formed by single stones, between which is a small, low boulder. The present circular outline of the surrounding mound is due to cultivation.


Glenballythomas: Souterrain and cave.
M 798 834
Sheet 33

1.6 km S of Rathcroghan crossroads and approached by a tarred lane leading off the Rathcroghan-Lissalway road, is the damp and magical Cave of Cruachú, known also as Oweynagat or Cave of the Cat: a deep limestone fissure into which the visitor may descend from a circular ring (perhaps an Iron age burial place) through a dry-walled souterrain some 3.6 metres long, roofed by large lintel-slabs, two of which bear Ogam inscriptions. Only the most intrepid or foolhardy should venture further.
The area around Rathcroghan crossroads is rich in earthworks associated with Cruachain, seat of the Kings (i.e.warlords) of Connacht, and scene of the ritual drinking-feast and king-making marriage to the goddess Maeve (Medbh) known in England as Queen Mab. The name Cruachain also refers to the North Roscommon limestone plain.

~ 800 metres SE is Knockannagorp (Hillock of Corpses) alias Dathí's Grave, a small ring-ditch in the middle of which is a 1.8 metre high slab said to mark 'the grave of the last pagan king of Ireland', an entirely mythical personage. The significance of the stone remains a mystery.


Scregg: Passage-tomb
M 929 552
Sheet 40

4 km W of Lecarrow, on a rocky knoll to the E of a by-road, is" The Cloghogle Stone" (cloch togálach = raised stone) -a small picturesque chamber 1.2 metres high inside, composed of single slabs, is partly closed at the entrance by a stone 70 cms high. The cairn has mostly disappeared.

~ 3.5 km E by S, immediately to the W of the main Roscommon-Athlone road near Lecarrow at Knockanyconor, is "Nellie's Rock". Although not accepted as a sepulchre in the Megalithic Survey - nor even listed among the doubtful - this striking arrangement of stones is of interest -and seems to me to be the disordered remnants of a court-tomb. One stone, apparently a slipped roofstone, is 3.3.metres long; another is a little smaller. Upright stones lean at various angles. The local name may refer to a poor woman who, during the 19th century is said to have reared a child under the great flat stone. A number of megalithic tombs (and of course caves and rock-shelters) were used as dwellings in "the most wretched country in Europe" during the 19th century. And in France today many upland chamber-tombs are used as shepherds' overnight shelters.

~ 15 km SSE (6 km WSW of Athlone) in Mihanboy

(M 986 403, sheet 47) is a ruined portal-tomb, originally supported on portals 2.3 metres high, whose backstone has collapsed - thus causing the roof-stone to slide back, taking the door-stone with it.