'Montpelier' : Passage Tomb

TownlandHell Fire Club
Grid RefO 115 236
GPSO 11496 23649 (7m)
Longitude6° 19' 45.58" W
Latitude53° 15' 5.41" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownTallaght (4.5 Km)
OS Sheet50
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

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Montpelier - Standing Stone
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Visit Notes

Saturday, 8th September 2001

This is quite a hike. The hill from the car park is very steep. When you come on to the top of the hill you first see the building that was The Hell Fire club. To the rear is the tomb. Now nothing more than a low mound with the remnants of a ditch, this was once definitely a passage tomb . It was hard to spot where the entrance would have been, but there is a definite dip in the center that must have been the chamber . The view more than makes up for the lack of tomb as the whole of Dublin bay is clearly visible.

The stories surrounding the building here are numerous and some interesting curse stories revolve around the use of a standing stone in its construction. I assume a lot of the building material was robbed from the cairn .

Passage tombs are perhaps the most celebrated style of tombs, mainly due to the fantastic examples at Newgrange (County Meath), Knowth (County Meath) and Dowth (County Meath) in the Boyne Valley as well as those at Loughcrew (County Meath), which is by far the best place to experience these wonders.

The classical form of passage tomb is the cruciform style, where a long passage leads to a main chamber with 3 small chambers off, forming a cross when viewed from above. However, there are many other styles, some don't even have a passage! These other forms are with a round chamber (see Fourknocks (County Meath)), a polygonal chamber or in the form of a cross of Lorraine, which can be found at Seefin Hill (County Wicklow).

There is one form known as an undifferentiated passage tomb wherein the chamber is simply a broadening of the passage, such as at Matthewstown (County Waterford).

The passage and chamber was, once constructed, covered in a mound of earth or a stone cairn, which was in turn held in place with a kerb around its perimeter.

Perhaps what Irish passage tombs are most known for is the form of rock art more commonly called passage grave art, which can be seen in abundance along the Boyne Valley in the many cemeteries.

A compartment in a tomb in which burials were placed. In court tombs and wedge tombs a chamber is a sub-division of the burial gallery. Portal tombs have single chambers and passage tombs can have anything from one to five chambers, although usually passage tombs are considered to have a main chamber with extra subsidary 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.

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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Sunday, 23rd April 2006

There are actually the remains of two passage tombs on the hilltop. The smallest and most denuded has the concrete OS trig point on it. This is just a low, raised platform now which is situated to the south of the building.

The larger example, which is to the rear of the building, is bigger than I remembered it to be, reaching up to 1.5m high in places. There is a good section of surrounding ditch to the south side of the mound. In this ditch 5 kerbstones can be seen and two other detected just beneath the sod.

I approached the top of the hill the long way this time by walking almost to the southern end and then up. At the southwest corner the view looks out towards Piperstown Hill and the entrance to the Glenasmole Valley.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites


Follow the R115 south from Dublin and park in the car park at O121 237 (there is a big sign saying Hell Fire Club). Right by the entrance to the car park there is a path leading up the hill, follow this to the top.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Passage Tombs

External Links

Blather Archives - No Smoke Without Fire

A history of the Hellfire Club.
Click here to visit this site

A History Of Mont Pelier

A history of Mont Pelier
Click here to visit this site

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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