Ballyvennaght : Portal Tomb

Grid RefD 207 365
GPSD 20747 36486 (5m)
Longitude6° 6' 18.96" W
Latitude55° 9' 38.82" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownCushendun (5.7 Km)
OS Sheet5
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 25th February 2007

This is very difficult to find without a good grid reference and a GPS. Luckily, in this instance, the State Monuments Register is spot on.

Only 50-60cm of the orthostats stand proud of the peat and this is only the case because the peat around the site has been cut a little. If the peat was undisturbed I am not sure if anything sould be visible at all.

The 2m long capstone is slightly displaced, but still covers the chamber , which in turn is nearly full of cairn rubble. The entrance faces roughly south. One very interesting thing to note about this site is that you can definitely feel some cairn material just onder the present ground surface in front of the entrance. This would indicate that the entrance was either blocked off at some point or that the monument originally stood within a cairn that reached at least up to its capstone. It is very rare to find a portal tomb in this state, making this a very improtant monument indeed.

About 75m behind the tomb there is a large boulder that looks as if it could be the capstone of another portal tomb, but it's impossible to say. I don't think it is though. However, it could be the reason the monument was built here, giving it the apprearance of having being pair. The nearby pair of portal tombs (see Cloughananca (County Antrim)) can just be seen poking above the peat to the northwest(ish).

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))

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.

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.

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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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