Cunard : Portal Tomb

Grid RefO 117 199
GPSO 11713 11903 (6m)
Longitude6° 19' 48.67" W
Latitude53° 8' 45.41" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownTallaght (7.9 Km)
OS Sheet56
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 19th May 2002

This is another one of those tales of a portal tomb and nothing on the map. Well, it exists ..... and it's quite sweet - not very big and the portal stones have gone ..... but it's sweet.

As you tramp down the hillside along the stream you just get the feeling of 'Portal Tomb Country' and you just know it's going to be there, waiting for you. And then you see a large stone and realise that this is it. I raced down the hill amazed at finding this initially dubious site.

As mentioned the portal stones have gone and just three chamber wall stones remain, still propping up one end of the diamond shaped capstone, whih is just 2.2m long.

It is wonderfully situated on a little hump around which the peaty brown stream diverts. The addition of a few trees in the area make the site very nice indeed.

The chamber forms a 70cm cube and the total height of the structure is just 1.6m. With the portal stones in place, holding up the pointed end of the capstone it may have reached 2m or so.

Portal tombs are what most people wrongly refer to as dolmens. They are, to me at least, the most strikingly designed of the megalithic tombs. They are called portal tombs because they have two large upright stones, usually very well matched, in front of the chamber that seem to form a doorway.

Resting upon the portal stones and the chamber a large capstone rests (sometimes there are two capstones - see Knockeen (County Waterford)), usually at an angle of around 22 degrees from the horizontal. Although these were originally incorporated into one end of a long cairn there are none left in this state today, although traces of the cairn can sometimes be seen upon the ground. The portal stones can be up to 3.5m tall, which combined with a thick capstone can produce an imposing monument over 5m tall. Capstones can reach in excess of 70 tonnes, with that of Browne's Hill (County Carlow) being estimated at over 120 tonnes.

Often betwen the portal stones there is a door slab, blocking the width of the entrance, but not always the full height. Door slabs are either half height, three quarter height or full height, describing the amount of the portal that they obstruct. All portal tombs would have had door slab, but this has often been removed to facilitate entry into the chamber.

Quite rarely the portal stones are the same height as the chamber and the characteristic slope of the capstone is created by the profile of the capstone (see Glendruid (County Dublin)).

Sunday, 21st July 2002

After playing dodge the scrambler bike (there were around 15 people riding bikes up and down the hill) we made it to this pretty little tomb. After staying for a while and enjoying watching a bird of prey dive bomb prey we headed back up, once again running the gauntlet.

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Tuesday, 23rd May 2006

The walk down to this wonderful site is never dry. The whole of the hillside is so boggy that Andy's feet got soaked, but it is so worth it! The recent rains had engorged the stream that runs down the hill a few metres from the tomb. The small cascade just below the tomb was particularly spectacular and noisy.

Andy had a good look around the base of the raised area that the tomb stands on and noticed that the stone seems to be different from the other rock on the hillside. This outcrop is very red, rusty even, and seems to be rich in iron.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites


Take the R115 south from Rockbrook and after about 4km you will pass a turn off to the right. Keep going past the parking area on the left. As you round a bend you will see a memorial in 100m in front of you to the left. Just past this memorial is a left turn. Turn here and take this road until you reach a stream running down to your left. Park here and walk down the hill along the stream for 550m or so to reach this tomb.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Portal 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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