Muntermellan : Portal Tomb

Grid RefC 018 388
GPSC 01801 38771 (6m)
Longitude7° 58' 18.18" W
Latitude55° 11' 45.71" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDunfanaghy (1.3 Km)
OS Sheet2
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 13th March 2005

This site was the main reason for me making this rather insane trip. Perched high up above Sheep Haven in a little saddle between two huge bulbous exposed grantite outcrops. These outcrops are riddled with thick veins of quartz upto 30cm wide.

As I approached the tomb from the west I couldn't see it, because it is built right next to one of the outcrops, which is strewn with loose boulders and so provides great camouflage for the monument. After scrambling through some gorse bushes with loose ankle-breaking boulders beneath and over a wall I finally reached the monument. What an amazing view one gets from up here! Then, just a few minutes afetr I arrived the snow started. Great. Luckily it lasted for just 10 minutes.

To the south Muckish Mountain, itself snow covered, kept hiding behind its own veil of cloud, but made its presence known every now and then.

At first the tomb itself looks in worse condition than it actually is. This is mainly due to the amount cairn material that is still present and the rocky slopes beyond becoming mixed up in what you perceive to be the tomb. The cairn is around 30m in length and aligned roughly north-south. The tomb is situated at the north end of the cairn and faces in that direction. There are two capstones one of which leans against the two slender portal stones. The portal stones are very closely set and have a half-height doorstone between them.

The other capstone still covers the long, low chamber (1m tall, 1m wide, 2.5m long). The front edge of this capstone is covered by a band of quartz which can be seen above the top of the doorstone when viewed through the entrance. Both capstones are trapezoidal in shape.

Both the views and the quartz veins in the rocks around the site make this a very special place. The way the tomb is tucked up against the one outcrop makes it very personal and calming too, which feels quite odd in such an exposed position.

Boulder burials are very simple, yet striking monuments. As the name suggest they are simply burials beneath a large boulder. The burials contained within are mainly single and set in a small kist like chamber made from smaller stones (see Reanacaheragh (County Cork).

Boulder burials can be found on their own or within or around stone circles. The boulders often bear cup marks and were often picked for their curiously attractive shape or rock patterns.

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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