Cabragh : Wedge Tomb

Grid RefG 568 242
GPSG 56751 24171 (5m)
Longitude8° 39' 43.96" W
Latitude54° 9' 52.68" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBallysadare (11.1 Km)
OS Sheet25
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 10th October 2004

I defy anyone to make total sense of this site! At its heart is a partially collapsed wedge tomb , but the immediate area is strewn with possibilities. Before interpreting it you first have to find it, though, which isn't that easy as it lies in a dip two fields from the nearest road.

The tomb occupies rough pasture on a southwest slope. 150m to the northwest is an area of exposed rocky outcrops. Knocknashee (County Sligo) pokes its head above the top of the bank to the southeast. This is the only tomb in the area I visited today where Knocknarea (County Sligo) does not appear on the horizon.

The gallery is about 6m long and defined by two slabs on each side and the spikiest backstone I have ever seen. A massive 3.5m x 2m long roofslab rests against one side of the tomb. 30m behind the tomb there is a large slab flush with the ground, which seems to have a chamber beneath it. A line of stones joins this to the tomb. To the northwest there is a second flat slab lying with its long axis at right angles to the gallery. This seems to point at a low point in the horizon.

High up on the top of the ridge above the tomb is a flat altar-like stone set so that it faces Knocknashee. In the neighboring fields there are many rock outcrops, one of which has had its top split away from it and a stone placed between to separate the two pieces. Because a piece of stone has been used to do this it's impossible to say how long ago this was done.

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.

Like this monument

Marked Sites

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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