Fanygalvan : Wedge Tomb

CountyClare
Grid RefR 254 971
GPSR 25388 97085 (3m)
Longitude9° 6' 43.05" W
Latitude53° 1' 9.46" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownKilfenora (7.7 Km)
OS Sheet51
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This site has subsites

Cahermackirilla - Stone Row or AlignmentCahermackirilla - Hut Circle
Cahermackirilla - CairnFanygalvan - Chambered Cairn
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Visit Notes

Wednesday, 17th March 2010

This hilltop wedge tomb can be thought of as the centrepiece of a wonderful complex of monuments. Nearby there are , hut circles, a cairn, a stone row and a chambered cairn with an exposed cist .

The wedge tomb is a large example, with a 6m long gallery that faces west. Each side of the gallery is formed using two slabs, almost as if it was extended at some point with two 1m long sections. The large wallslab on the northside has collapsed inwards to about 45 degrees and is supported within the gallery by a small stone. This collapse gives the massive roofslab a steep slope. The roofslab has also broken in two, with the front 1.5m of it lying on the ground in front of the gallery. When complete the roofslab would have weighed somewhere in the region of 10 tons.

At the front of the gallery the front slab is still in situ. This does not fill the whole width of the gallery. On the southern side in particular the remans of the double walling are good. The massive roofslab would not have covered the extra back sections of the walls, again maybe pointing to these being a later extension.

It appears that there are actually two wedge tombs here forming one monument. A few metres to the west of the main structure there is another small, collapsed monument. The roofslab of this is around 2.5m x 1m, and it lies on top of some smaller slabs. This structure does not appear to have shared the same axis as the main monument.

NOTE: The wall that lies just north of the wedge tomb is actually the townland boundary, so a few of the monuments here are in Cahermackirilla townland, not Fanygalvan.

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.

There are two kinds of burial chamber that are refered to as cists or kists. Kist is usually used to refer to a megalithic structure and cist used for later Bronze Age burials.

Cists are small slab lined boxes, set into the ground, with a single slab used as a cover. They tend to be no larger than 1.5m square. Although cists are found in dedicated mounds or cairns they are often later insertions into megalithic cairns (see Kilmashogue (County Dublin)).

Kists are much bigger structures and usually built above ground level (see Dolmen of the Four Maols (County Mayo))and covered by a cairn. They are usually rectangular in plan with vertical sides, but one type, known as a Linkardstown Kist is pentagonal with sloping side stones (see Cloghtogle (County Fermanagh)).

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Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Wedge Tombs

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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