Ballyrenan : Portal Tomb

Grid RefH 373 832
GPSH 37348 83173 (5m)
Longitude7° 25' 14.55" W
Latitude54° 41' 42.62" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownCastlederg (11.2 Km)
OS Sheet12
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Monday, 4th August 2003

What a disappointment! I was so looking forward to seeing this tomb or 'these tombs' I should say. I had honestly expected it to be a national monumet, kept all nice and clean and with proper access. Alas it stands neglected roof high in bracken and nettles. Access is not a real problem as it stands right by the roadside.

There are two portal tombs in there somewhere. The eastern-most one is roofless and points east. This has fine portal stones and a 3/4 height doorstone. All three sides of the chamber appear to be in situ.

The other tomb is much more interesting. This faces slightly south of east. It still has two capstones in place. The rear one is horizontal and covers the cube like chamber. The other has its lower end resting on the first and its other end pitched up by the 1.6m tall portal stones. Very unusually there is a lintel stone across the top of the portal stones, helping to raise the capstone. There are a lot of small solution pits on the upper surface of this capstone, some of which have definitely been enlarged in to very nice cupmarks.

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Sunday, 14th November 2004

Coming here was the primary reason for this trip north. A while back I had written to the landowners to enquire if the site had been cleared since I first visited it and was so disappointed. It hadn't been cleared, but my email prompted them to clear it - this reaction was a pleasant, but very welcome surprise, so big thanks are due to them! Anyway, it seemed rather rude not to visit after they'd done the work, so off I set.

Now that the two portal tombs can be seen you can really appreciate it. It's beautiful! The smaller, more ruined tomb is a little bigger than I'd thought. Everything seems to be present apart from the capstone . There is also a low set stone to the north of the north portal stone, which could be the front edge of the cairn .

The more complete tomb is very odd. Two features make it a little unusual - the first is the extra, sealed chamber to the rear of the main chamber - the second is the lintel that rests on the portal stones and helps to support the capstone.

The nearby farm buildings do detract from the site, but now it is cleared these don't seem to matter as much as they did previously. Now the tombs grab and keep your attention.

Two stones place either side of a gallery, opposite each other, but not touching so as to leave a gap, that are used to segment it into smaller chambers.

The large rock used to form the roof of a portal tomb or kist.

A cairn is a large pile of stones, quite often (but not always) containing a burial. Sometimes they have a kerb around the base.

Most cairns are hemi-spherical (like half a football), but the piles of stones used to cover wedge tombs, court tombs and portal tombs are also called cairns. When associated with these types of monument they are not always round, but sometimes rectangular or trapezoidal.

Like this monument

Marked Sites

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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