'Giant's Leap' : Wedge Tomb

TownlandBurren
CountyCavan
Grid RefH 079 352
GPSH 07874 35240 (3m)
Longitude7° 52' 44.91" W
Latitude54° 15' 57.05" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownSwanlinbar (13.9 Km)
OS Sheet26
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 1st June 2003

What a beautiful tomb. This long wedge tomb , with a gallery some 6m long, is in fantastic condition, with a complete roof made from 4 large slabs. Some widely set double walling is present, leaning on the south side and incorporated in a wall on the north. The gallery is aligned east-west and there is both an ante-chamber and a portico at the front.

The large slab that separates the gallery from the ante-chamber has a cut away at the bottom. The portico is roofed with an outstanding stone - covered in cup and ring marks, a unique feature on a wedge tomb. Some people doubt that this is rock art , but I am sure that it is; the rings around some of the cups are perfect.

I actually developed a bit of a theory regarding this tomb. I think that it went through two or three stages of development. The building of the gallery and ante-chamber were either the first stage or the first two stages. I think the portico was added later. The stone used to roof this has an unusual step in it, which makes me believe that it was originally a standing stone, set into the ground up to this shoulder (the thicker section has just two cups on it).

Basically, this monument offers all you could want in one spot. I have recently decided to slow myself down a little during my days out. To help me do this I have recently bought some paints and will try (and I mean try) to paint a few of the sites I go to. The location of this tomb is so sylvan that I chose to try and paint this one, but I was bitten to pieces by some seriously nasty bugs! I think some insect repellent is about to join all the other stuff I carry around with me. Great! More stuff to carry.

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.

One of the most fascinating types of remains left to us by our neolithic ancestors. Enigmatic carvings on rocks, either loose boulders or earth-fast rocks. Designs vary enormously from simple cup marks to amazing spirals, zig-zags, checker-board and lozenge patterns.

No one knows what these symbols once stood for, but many theories exist including star charts, calendars and maps. Many passage tombs are adorned with rock art, both inside the chamber and on the kerb.

Saturday, 17th March 2007

I do love this excellent monument. Even on a rainy day with big blobs of water dripping off the trees and going down your neck it's a great place to be.

I took more time to look inside the gallery this time. I was so amazed at the monument on my previous visit that I didn't give it too much attention. The underside of all the roofstones have been worked, making them very flat.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Sunday, 29th June 2008

This is the first time I've visited this monument on a nice sunny day and it makes a big difference. The strong light coming through the trees makes photography hard, but the effect on the glade is fantastic.

Despite there being a lot more rock art now known in the area, it is the carvings on the roofstone here are still the best examples.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Like this monument

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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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