Cromwell : Wedge Tomb

CountyLimerick
Grid RefR 730 389
GPSR 72997 38931 (3m)
Longitude8° 23' 51.64" W
Latitude52° 30' 4.3" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownHosspital (4 Km)
OS Sheet65
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Saturday, 27th December 2008

As you approach this wedge tomb from the south west your expectations fall, because all you can see is a clump of thorn trees. Approaching from this direction is probably not the best route as the end of the ridge is marked by a 6m high rockface that is covered in thick gorse bushes.

Once you reach the thicket, though, things change slightly for the better. The northern end of the tomb is accessible and the chamber is revealed. There are three orthostats on the south side of the gallery and three on the north, although these do not represent equal lengths of wall. The gallery is now just 3m long, but a lone slab 2m from this could be the backstone, which would make the gallery originally 5m+ long.

There is one large roofstone still in place and another has fallen into the gallery, inclined against the north side. Another stone that lies just outside the trees is probably another roofstone judging by its size. The gallery's alignment is roughly NE-SW.

The views to the south look towards the Galtee Mountains, which form the horizon. To the north the vista is formed by the lowlands of Limerick. The rest of Cromwell Hill rises high above the ridge to the northeast.

If the trees were cleared this would be a good specimen in fairly good condition. Even as it stands it is still worth a visit.

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.

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))

Like this monument

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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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