Violethill : Wedge Tomb

CountyClare
Grid RefR 575 739
GPSR 575 73877 (6m)
Longitude9° 28' 28.33" W
Latitude52° 48' 24.37" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownTulla (10.6 Km)
OS Sheet58
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 3rd July 2005

The 1km walk to this site was painful. The cobbly farm track, which I didn't think my car would manage (I was right, it wouldn't have done) really took its toll on me. To compound the pain after about 700m the track turns very steeply uphill!

The tomb is a nice example of a small wedge tomb , which if it was more accessible would probably be better known. The gallery is just 1.5m square and retains its single roof stone, which is supported by three of the walls. The door stone has been pulled forward allowing you to see inside. Well, it would do if the inside wasn't full of nettles!

There is a considerable amount of cairn material left around the rear of the west facing gallery. A cluster of high tress block the main view west, but standing slightly to one side of them it is possible to see across the valley towards Seefin and Knockaunnamoughly mounatins. It is also possible to see that the tomb is situated at the perfect spot for the peaks of the mountains beyond to sit nicely on the high ridegs of these.

Wedge tombs are most easily catagorised by their main characteristic - they are taller and wider at the entrance than they are at the rear. Like court tombs they have a gallery which is split either by septal slabs or sill stones into smaller chambers. Galleries can be anything up to 8m in length.

The side walls are, uniquely, made of two rows of stones (three in some cases), which is refered to as double or triple walling. This double walling is perhaps the best feature to identify a wedge tomb by.

The roofs are constructed by laying large blocks or slabs across the gallery, resting on the tops of the walls.

They are often quite small, an amazing exception being Labbacallee (County Cork), one of the largest in Ireland. It is very rare to find a wedge tomb with its roof still in situ, although, occasionally, one or two of the roof slabs are present (see Proleek (County Louth)).

In some examples the roof would have extended beyond the front closing slab forming a portico at the front, which in a few specimens was split by a vertical stone place centrally in the entrance.

Like court tombs, portal tombs and passage tombs they were covered by a cairn, which, at many sites, it is still often possible to determine. A few, such as Burren SW (County Cavan), still retain a large proportion of the cairn.

A cairn is a large pile of stones, quite often (but not always) containing a burial. Sometimes they have a kerb around the base.

Most cairns are hemi-spherical (like half a football), but the piles of stones used to cover wedge tombs, court tombs and portal tombs are also called cairns. When associated with these types of monument they are not always round, but sometimes rectangular or trapezoidal.

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Like this monument

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About Coordinates Displayed

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.

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