Kilmaclenine : Wedge Tomb

CountyCork
Grid RefR 517 057
GPSR 51653 05684 (3m)
Longitude8° 42' 25.96" W
Latitude52° 12' 3.36" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownButtevant (4.5 Km)
OS Sheet73
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 1st February 2009

Every so often you go to a monument that's a little bit out of the ordinary. This is one of two such sites I visited today. First of all - is it a wedge tomb or is it a giant kist ? If it was in The Burren in CLare you'd definitely say it was a wedge tomb and this is why I'm using this classification.

The chamber is constructed using two massive side stones and a backstone set slightly in from the ends of the sides. The single roofstone covers the chamber completely. The other end of the chamber is open, leading into a massive space 1.6m x 2m in plan and nearly 2m high!

To add to the oddness of the monument it seems to be set into a massive mound that has been mutilated over the millenia, now having the appearance of grass-covered sand dunes.

This monument used to be hard to reach, but a new bungalow now sits close by and the road to this skirts the mound, making access easier (although the entrance to this road is hard to spot). A lovely black labrador lives at the house and is guaranteed to come and try to get into all your photos.

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.

There are two kinds of burial chamber that are refered to as cists or kists. Kist is usually used to refer to a megalithic structure and cist used for later Bronze Age burials.

Cists are small slab lined boxes, set into the ground, with a single slab used as a cover. They tend to be no larger than 1.5m square. Although cists are found in dedicated mounds or cairns they are often later insertions into megalithic cairns (see Kilmashogue (County Dublin)).

Kists are much bigger structures and usually built above ground level (see Dolmen of the Four Maols (County Mayo))and covered by a cairn. They are usually rectangular in plan with vertical sides, but one type, known as a Linkardstown Kist is pentagonal with sloping side stones (see Cloghtogle (County Fermanagh)).

Like this monument

Marked Sites

A Selection of Other Wedge 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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