It is really hard to know where to start here, but I'll try. The first thing I would recommend is to stop at the end of the farm track that leads to this monument and watch the sea in the little bay. If the weather is a little rough you will be treated to some spectacular wave crashing and a real demonstration of the power of nature. A very sobering experience to prepare you for these monuments. Monuments? Yes, monuments! For here we have six (I counted them) portal tombs and a standing stone.
You can either walk along the lane or drive as far as the white and green house an park. Just before the white and green house is a standing stone that seems to be an extension of the line of portal tombs. The six tombs are set in a line over 90m long. There is a large portal tomb at either end of the line which face outwards - they are both ruined, but they both seem to have pointed east, away from the sea. The usual associated stream winds its way to the sea in the field on the north side of the track. The western-most tomb retains the bbest structure, but even this one is a little difficult to decipher. At a guess it would (and by implication the one at the east end) have looked like Leac na Scail (County Kilkenny). These two end tombs are mimicked quite pathetically by two houses that are built at either end of the row.
Before I forget I must mention the beautiful quartzite block that is 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. As well as this the line of the tombs, extended through this stone, passes through a natural flat-topped landscape feature that faces out to sea, like a raised dias. Perhaps this was a place of ceremony related to the tombs and their ritual use.
Between the two large tombs there are a line of smaller portal tombs. These seem to face north or south, ie. at right angles to the line of the monuments. Each of these is in a different state of completeness, with none of them being complete. When labelling these in the pictures I will call the large western one #1 and the large eastern one #7. Why 7? Because there is a pile of stones between #3 and #5 that could have been a mounment too.
Two stones place either side of a gallery, opposite each other, but not touching so as to leave a gap, that are used to segment it into smaller chambers.
Standing stones, also called menhirs or monoliths, are the most simple of megalithic monuments. They are exactly what they say, a stone that stands with one end set into the ground. Being simple in form does not make them simple to understand, for they have served several purposes over time. Some were placed to mark burials, others were probably erected to mark boundaries or travel routes, the purpose of others is uncertain, but it may well have been ritual.
Standing stones can vary enormously in size from a under 1m tall to over 4m. Some have been purposely shaped (see Stone Of Destiny (County Meath)) and some must have been chosen purely for their shape (see Ballyvatheen (County Kilkenny)). Most standing stones are dated to be from the Bronze Age, but some are clearly older, especially those associated with passage tombs such as at Knowth (County Meath) and Loughcrew - Corstown (County Meath).
Others have been re-used in later times (see Kilnasaggart (County Armagh) and Breastagh (County Mayo)), perhaps to try and capture some of the powers of the old gods or to legitamise a claim to land.
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There is always a WOW factor when you come here. Six (yes SIX!) portal tombs in a row makes this a very special place indeed.
The two massive ones at either end of the row make a statement of purpose, while the middle ones fill the gap between them quite evenly. It would be great to know for sure what the chronology of these monuments was. Were the two large ones built first and then the middle bit populated? Or was one large one built, then the smaller ones and finally the other large one added to finish off this multi-tomb monument.
Despite being fairly ruined this is one of the most important and interesting monuments in Ireland. Why did the builders go to such extremes here?
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This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.
Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.
Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.
The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.
UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.
ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.