Tornant Upper : Passage Tomb

Grid RefS 874 999
Longitude6° 41' 48.28" W
Latitude53° 2' 33.55" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDonard (6.1 Km)
OS Sheet55
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 4th November 2001

On the map there is one tomb marked but the layout of the land gives the impression that there may in fact be two. Perched on the high point of this low hill these mounds appear complete and un-robbed for the stone. I do not know if they have ever been excavated. Probably not.

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Thursday, 28th December 2006

After following the signs for Tornant Graveyard from Dunlavin I found that the track to the graveyard is a very good place to see the passage tomb from. When viewed from this side the mound really does stand proud of the ridge its on. It was a very cloudy and dull day so the views to the Wicklow Mountains wasn't very good, but looking west I was able to make out Brewel Hill, where I was heading to later on.

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.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites


From Dunlavin take the R 412 south. Take the first right and then right again. The tomb(s) are opposite a farm on the right just befor the brow of the hill.


The National Museum in Dublin has a decorated stone from a passage tomb that originally came from Tornant Lower. There are no traces of this tomb now.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Passage 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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