Clontygora : Court Tomb

Grid RefJ 099 194
GPSJ 09867 19428 (6m)
Longitude6° 19' 11.36" W
Latitude54° 6' 43.6" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownWarrenpoint (4.4 Km)
OS Sheet29
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 3rd February 2002

If I had have been riding a horse when I first saw this tomb I would have fallen off!! What a beautiful and inspiring place.

The courtyard welcomes you with open arms and draws you into its belly ... the chamber. The half courtyard is some 10m across and 5m deep. A line of stones extend from the back of the chamber and from above must look like a giant megalithic CND sign ... a message from the ancients to us all?

It started raining very heavily while I was here and so I had to take refuge inside the 2m x 1m chamber and sit, eating my sandwiches, watching the world go by. Personally, I really didn't care about the rain.

The stones that make up the courtyard vary in height from about 80cm upto nearly 2m near the chamber entrance.

I absolutely love this tomb and will revisit at every chance.

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Saturday, 2nd March 2002

I could not resist popping in while I was just 2km away. I had an idea for a better photo and so wanted to go back anyway. Even without this 'excuse' I believe I would have been drawn to this wonderful place.

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Saturday, 19th July 2003

Embraced in the arms of this temple I sat and painted, while the sheep stood around and bleated. I don't think I'll swap places today.

The tomb is perfectly aligned with a bungalow on the hill opposite. Serious forward planning! I sit in the entrance for a while and wonder why it didn't align on that hill to the north? And then I see that the one arm of the court points straight at it to the gallery and sight along it. Interesting.

Sunday, 7th May 2006

What a place to start a roadtrip! It's also a great place to take some photos with my new wide angle lens.

This is a good place to start, because it's not a typical court tomb design. Get this one out of the way and the rest are easy to explain. The 'tail' at the rear of the gallery still intrigues me.

Court tombs have several distinctive characteristics that allow easy identification when in fair condition. One key feature that is a great help, no matter what the condition, is that court tombs are nearly always aligned north to south. They were all originally covered by a cairn, but in most instances this is now missing, or at best only remain to a height of one or two metres. The easiest feature to identify (when intact) is obviously the court. The rest of the tomb is occupied by a long, divided, passage-like gallery.

Galleries of court tombs can usually be identified by their characteristic boat-shaped plan, i.e. the gallery, when viewed from above, is flat at the entrance and tapers to a point or narrow width at the rear. The gallery may be segmented into up to five chambers by jambs, the walls normally being made of large slabs. The roofs were created by laying large slabs across the gallery, either directly on to the tops of the wall slabs or resting on corbel stones. Two large stones, with smooth forward-facing faces, usually create the entrance and it is possible to identify a court tomb when only these stones remain. The gallery would have been covered by a cairn of stones, sometimes with a kerb.

Single Gallery Variations:
Most often called a 'Single Court Tombs, usually this style has a half-court, a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of stones in front of the gallery (see Ballymacdermot (County Armagh)). This is usually, but not always, symmetrical about the centre line of the gallery, although occasionally the centre line of the court forms a slight angle with the centre line of the gallery. The other option is a full-court formed a complete circle of stones (see Creevykeel (County Sligo)). These full-courts mainly have one entrance allowing access, which is usually opposite the entrance to the gallery.

Double Gallery Variations:
Double-gallery court tombs come in three styles, the last of which is very unusual. The first is where the chambers are built facing away from each other. These are usually referred to as ŽDouble Court TombsŪ (see Cohaw (County Cavan)). The galleries sometimes share the same rear stone, but more often there is some distance between them Ů ranging from one to ten metres. This style has a half-court at each end of the monument, one facing north and the other facing south. In this style both galleries would have been covered by the same cairn.

Tuning round the two tombs and placing the two galleries so that the entrances face each other, across a full court, creates another style, known as a Centre-Court Tomb. Access to this court is gained through entrances placed (usually) in the east and west sides of the court. Here there would have been two cairns, one at each end, but they would have been joined down the sides of the court by a low cairn.

The third and very uncommon form is where the two galleries are located side-by-side facing into a full court with an entrance opposite (e.g. Malin More).

Subsidiary Chambers:
Quite often you will find other chambers built into the cairn. In single-gallery tombs and double court tombs these are invariably located to the rear of the gallery. Centre court tombs often have them placed near to the entrances.

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Thursday, 1st January 2009

My route to Aghnaskeagh (County Louth) took me past this wonderful monument and I couldn't resist stopping. It's quiet difficult to visit this now, because of the new M1, which doesn't allow you to turn off to this site very easily.

The sculptural beauty of the court stones and the 'completeness' of the chamber do make this a great site to sit in front of. However, a bright winter's day is not the best time to visit the site, because the court is in silhouette. It is much better to come here early or late in mid summer.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites


From Newry take the A1 south and cross the border. Take the first left turn after the border and continue along this road. The road takes a sharp left turn after about 3km. Follow the road around and look out for the sign on the right pointing to the tomb after about 500m.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Court 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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