Creggandevesky : Court Tomb

CountyTyrone
Grid RefH 646 750
GPSH 64603 75039 (7m)
Longitude6° 59' 59.34" W
Latitude54° 37' 9.66" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownOmagh (18.7 Km)
OS Sheet13
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 4th January 2004

This great example of a court tomb was restored after excavation. It consists of a 17m long trapezoidal cairn , which is 6m wide at the rear and 13m wide at the court. The court is constructed with very unevenly matched orthostats (which decrease in height as they get further from the entrance) making it look a little untidy. The entrance jambs , which are also unmatched, support a gabled lintel very much like [ite:1197]. The court is U-shaped and 6m wide at the front.

The entrance leads into a 10m long gallery that is segmented into three chambers . Each chamber is separated from the next by a pair of jambs. The first chamber is almost round; the second tapers; the third one broadens slightly before tapering to where the missing backstone would be.

Sitting at the rear of the gallery and looking out through the entrance you can see that it is clearly aligned to a small bump on the horizon. One of the most spectacular features of this site is its location on the north shore of Lough Mallon, which is L-shaped. The lough streaches away southeast and the turns sharply to the east. A boat trip down and around the bend would take you to the base of Cregganconroe Mountain, which when facing it from the bend looks very much like a recumbent sleeping figure - yes, I'm obsessed with them!

A couple of things to note about this site. One is access. Although this is a national monument and enjoys public access rights, all the gates on the muddy track to it where padlocked. Secondly is the pathetic size of the compound that is fenced off. To stand in the compound and take a picture of the whole court you would need a very wide angle lens. An extra 6ft in each direction would have made all the difference.

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:
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.

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.

A barrow is essentially a mound of earth over one or more burials. They are more usually to be dated to the Bronze Age. There are many forms of barrow including ring, bowl, long and bell barrows.

Ring barrows are formed by digging a circular trench or fosse around a central burial, with no mound.

Bowl barrows are formed by heaping up soil over the burial(s) from a surrounding fosse, these often have an external bank too (see Ballyremon Commons (County Wicklow)).

Bell barows are simply round mounds with no fosse or external bank.

Long barrows are rare in Ireland and are more common in southwest England. Their shape is basically ovoid rather than round (see Ballynoe (County Down))

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.

A low stone used to de-lineate the divisions of a gallery. Sill stones fill the width of the space, but do not reach the roof.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Saturday, 4th June 2005

A couple of new gates have been put up to ease access to the site, but there is still one locked gate to climb on the way around the lough. The track was also far muddier than on my previous visit - BIG boots of wellingtons are essential when coming here, especially after recent rain.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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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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