I had tried to find this wedge tomb once before, but I didn't have the OS Map or the grid reference on me at the time, so I wondered through the dunes looking for an exposed tomb. I didn't find it, so I assumed that it had been once more consumed by the sand. Wrong! This time I had a guide, Tatjana, who took me straight to it, and it's embarrassingly easy to find.
The site was exposed a storm that removed the sand dunes that once covered the area. The site is still surrounded by dunes and you can scale some of them to get a good look down onto the tomb. This site is quite high above the sea, so it was a big storm that uncovered the site.
The gallery is very small, just 3m long, and has no roof stones in place. The double walling is very well preserved and this is a great site to appreciate the tapering wedge-shape that gives these tombs their name. The entrance to the gallery is formed from two well-matched stones with a slab blocking the gap between. Apparently, the damage to this doorslab was done when some complete numpty lit a fire in the gallery.
The site reminds me of a smaller version of Island (County Cork). There is a fine circular kerb around the tomb that is almost complete. The kerb is about 10m in diameter.
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.
In wedge tombs and court tombs the burial compartment is known as a gallery and collectively wedge and court tombs are called classified as 'gallery graves'. This is because the inner area is long and narrow, i.e. bascially rectangular, in plan.
In court tombs the gallery is usually divided into two or more chambers by jambs. Wedge tombs are segmented by sill stones, as are a few court tombs.
A kerb is a ring of stones placed around the perimeter of a burial mound or cairn. It basically serves the purpose of a retaining wall to keep the cairn or earth in place. Kerbs are usually associated with passage tombs, but do occur on court tombs and wedge tombs too.
Sometimes on passage tombs the stones can bear decoration, such as at Newgrange (County Meath).
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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.