Knockatotaun : Portal Tomb

Grid RefG 568 201
GPSG 56756 20096 (5m)
Longitude8° 39' 41.59" W
Latitude54° 7' 40.88" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownTobercurry (9.4 Km)
OS Sheet25
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 25th March 2007

This is an unusual monument with affinitites to both portal tombs and (in a way) wedge tombs . A lot of people would possibly just settle for 'dolmen' and be done with it.

The large, horizontal 4m x 3m capstone is still in place. The underside of this is not smooth, but does look as though it has been worked to some degree. It rests on many orthostats , nearly all of which are encrusted with worm fossils (see Cairn W (County Meath) and Knockatober (County Sligo) for other examples of this type of stone being used in a monument.)

The long axis of the chamber is northwest-southeast, with the broader end at the southeast. The orthostat below the 'rear' end of the capstone has some nice quartz veins running through it.

The most spectacular thing about this site is probably the presence of Knocknashee (County Sligo) 1km to the southwest. From here you can just make out the passage tombs on its highest point.

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.

One of the most fascinating types of remains left to us by our neolithic ancestors. Enigmatic carvings on rocks, either loose boulders or earth-fast rocks. Designs vary enormously from simple cup marks to amazing spirals, zig-zags, checker-board and lozenge patterns.

No one knows what these symbols once stood for, but many theories exist including star charts, calendars and maps. Many passage tombs are adorned with rock art, both inside the chamber and on the kerb.

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

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.

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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