Owning : Portal Tomb

CountyKilkenny
Grid RefS 450 267
GPSS 44976 26708 (5m)
Longitude7° 20' 21.45" W
Latitude52° 23' 24.59" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownCarrick-On-Suir (6.9 Km)
OS Sheet75
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 5th March 2006

What a stunningly good portal tomb this would be if the brambles were cleared from it!

Everything seems to be there - the only bad thing is that the capstone has fallen to one side of the chamber . This has pushed one of the protal stones in slightly, but everything else does look alright, although its overgrown state does make it a little difficult to tell for definite.

The portal stones are around 1.6m tall and the chamber is around 2m long. I could not see that whether there is a doorstone or not. The capstone is about 1.8m square.

I would love to be able to say a lot more about this potentially wonderful tomb, but until it's cleared I won't be able to. The brambles that are covering it do only look like a couple of years worth of growth, so it was probably cared for until recently. You have to wonder why the upkeep of and care for these sites suddenly stops. Is it laziness? Is it to stop people like me going to see them? Is it because a new non-local, corporate landowner has bought the land and doesn't want the hassle and 'expense' of looking after our heritage? What cost our heritage?

Portal tombs are what most people wrongly refer to as dolmens. They are, to me at least, the most strikingly designed of the megalithic tombs. They are called portal tombs because they have two large upright stones, usually very well matched, in front of the chamber that seem to form a doorway.

Resting upon the portal stones and the chamber a large capstone rests (sometimes there are two capstones - see Knockeen (County Waterford)), usually at an angle of around 22 degrees from the horizontal. Although these were originally incorporated into one end of a long cairn there are none left in this state today, although traces of the cairn can sometimes be seen upon the ground. The portal stones can be up to 3.5m tall, which combined with a thick capstone can produce an imposing monument over 5m tall. Capstones can reach in excess of 70 tonnes, with that of Browne's Hill (County Carlow) being estimated at over 120 tonnes.


Often betwen the portal stones there is a door slab, blocking the width of the entrance, but not always the full height. Door slabs are either half height, three quarter height or full height, describing the amount of the portal that they obstruct. All portal tombs would have had door slab, but this has often been removed to facilitate entry into the chamber.

Quite rarely the portal stones are the same height as the chamber and the characteristic slope of the capstone is created by the profile of the capstone (see Glendruid (County Dublin)).

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

A compartment in a tomb in which burials were placed. In court tombs and wedge tombs a chamber is a sub-division of the burial gallery. Portal tombs have single chambers and passage tombs can have anything from one to five chambers, although usually passage tombs are considered to have a main chamber with extra subsidary chambers.

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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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