'Glendruid' : Portal Tomb

Grid RefO 229 242
GPSO 22946 24161 (11m)
Longitude6° 9' 27.56" W
Latitude53° 15' 12.87" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBray (6.3 Km)
OS Sheet50
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Saturday, 8th September 2001

This slightly, but well, restored portal tomb is set in the most idyllic wooded glade. There is a fallen upright just outside making it similar in design to the dolmen at Kiltiernan Domain (County Dublin) and is probably of an early form that is half court tomb , half dolmen(?) as there appears to be traces of a small courtyard to the front.

Being situated in a dip, sheltered by trees but in the open, this dolmen can be seen from above as you approach via one of the back gardens which makes it very unusual.

It can be accessed from one of two ways, either via Dolmen House (although this path appears not to have been used for some time) or from the lane to the rear.

With the sun shining this is a beautiful site. This site is also known as Cabinteely Dolmen or Brennanstown Dolmen.

Portal tombs are what most people wrongly refer to as dolmens. They are, to me at least, the most strikingly designed of the megalithic tombs. They are called portal tombs because they have two large upright stones, usually very well matched, in front of the chamber that seem to form a doorway.

Resting upon the portal stones and the chamber a large capstone rests (sometimes there are two capstones - see Knockeen (County Waterford)), usually at an angle of around 22 degrees from the horizontal. Although these were originally incorporated into one end of a long cairn there are none left in this state today, although traces of the cairn can sometimes be seen upon the ground. The portal stones can be up to 3.5m tall, which combined with a thick capstone can produce an imposing monument over 5m tall. Capstones can reach in excess of 70 tonnes, with that of Browne's Hill (County Carlow) being estimated at over 120 tonnes.

Often betwen the portal stones there is a door slab, blocking the width of the entrance, but not always the full height. Door slabs are either half height, three quarter height or full height, describing the amount of the portal that they obstruct. All portal tombs would have had door slab, but this has often been removed to facilitate entry into the chamber.

Quite rarely the portal stones are the same height as the chamber and the characteristic slope of the capstone is created by the profile of the capstone (see Glendruid (County Dublin)).

Court tombs have several distinctive characteristics that allow easy identification when in fair condition. One key feature that is a great help, no matter what the condition, is that court tombs are nearly always aligned north to south. They were all originally covered by a cairn, but in most instances this is now missing, or at best only remain to a height of one or two metres. The easiest feature to identify (when intact) is obviously the court. The rest of the tomb is occupied by a long, divided, passage-like gallery.

Galleries of court tombs can usually be identified by their characteristic boat-shaped plan, i.e. the gallery, when viewed from above, is flat at the entrance and tapers to a point or narrow width at the rear. The gallery may be segmented into up to five chambers by jambs, the walls normally being made of large slabs. The roofs were created by laying large slabs across the gallery, either directly on to the tops of the wall slabs or resting on corbel stones. Two large stones, with smooth forward-facing faces, usually create the entrance and it is possible to identify a court tomb when only these stones remain. The gallery would have been covered by a cairn of stones, sometimes with a kerb.

Single Gallery Variations:
Most often called a 'Single Court Tombs, usually this style has a half-court, a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of stones in front of the gallery (see Ballymacdermot (County Armagh)). This is usually, but not always, symmetrical about the centre line of the gallery, although occasionally the centre line of the court forms a slight angle with the centre line of the gallery. The other option is a full-court formed a complete circle of stones (see Creevykeel (County Sligo)). These full-courts mainly have one entrance allowing access, which is usually opposite the entrance to the gallery.

Double Gallery Variations:
Double-gallery court tombs come in three styles, the last of which is very unusual. The first is where the chambers are built facing away from each other. These are usually referred to as ŽDouble Court TombsŪ (see Cohaw (County Cavan)). The galleries sometimes share the same rear stone, but more often there is some distance between them Ů ranging from one to ten metres. This style has a half-court at each end of the monument, one facing north and the other facing south. In this style both galleries would have been covered by the same cairn.

Tuning round the two tombs and placing the two galleries so that the entrances face each other, across a full court, creates another style, known as a Centre-Court Tomb. Access to this court is gained through entrances placed (usually) in the east and west sides of the court. Here there would have been two cairns, one at each end, but they would have been joined down the sides of the court by a low cairn.

The third and very uncommon form is where the two galleries are located side-by-side facing into a full court with an entrance opposite (e.g. Malin More).

Subsidiary Chambers:
Quite often you will find other chambers built into the cairn. In single-gallery tombs and double court tombs these are invariably located to the rear of the gallery. Centre court tombs often have them placed near to the entrances.

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Thursday, 11th April 2002

The location of this site never fails to amaze me, my companians were suitable impressed too. I got some great pictures on this trip. We did knock and ring and shout at the house but got no answer and so wondered down to see this great dolmen. I was surprised to find that I had forgotten how big the capstone actually is.

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

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Wednesday, 1st May 2002

Great. For once the residents were in and so I was able to ask permission to go down this time, which was gladly given. There was a wry smile on his face as he said, "Sure. If you're willing to brave the wet." How right he was! My feet were soaked by the time we got to the bottom of the valley. At least it had stopped raining by now.

Friday, 27th September 2002

On this visit the moon was at the head of the valley looking down on us. The sun was out and Julian loved the place. Even I take this marvel for granted a little now and to see a fresh reaction to it always reminds me how good it really is.

Saturday, 7th December 2002

After knocking on the door of Dolmen House and asking a bewildered Australian if we could go down to the tomb, we ended up sheltering for a while in the wonderfully accommodating chamber.

Friday, 23rd July 2004

After struggling down the overgrown path and then through the brambles and nettles we reached the clearing at the bottom of this small valley. I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for this magnificent tomb, because it is very overgrown at the moment: I've never seen it this bad before. This really needs sorting out, because a rowan tree has taken root in the small courtyard to the rear of the chamber and brambles are slowly consuming the monument. As can be seen at Ballyglass (County Mayo) and others once this happens there is little hope of seeing the monument in all its glory again.

I shall contact Duchas to tell them of the tombs current situation and try to get them to sort it out before too much damage is done. If they had sufficient funding, so that regular checks could be carried out of these monuments Ireland's Heritage (something that the country is supposed to be proud of) would be a lot safer. As it stands within a few years a great deal of it will be lost, just for the sake of money, which is quite ironic when the country relies on its Heritage to generate money.

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Sunday, 31st October 2004

Not wanting to travel far this weekend gave me the perfect excuse to try out the alternative 'back way' to Glendruid that I'd recently been supplied with (see misc entry).

It was quite marvellous to be here without bothering the people in the house above and the walk to the site is quite amazing too. As the person that very kindly supplied the route says, it's incredible that this sort of wild walk exists on the edge of the city.

Saturday, 25th December 2004

Standing next to this tomb, in the snow, on Christmas Day was a special treat for me. The photos don't really demonstrate how wonderful the scene was, but those of you that know the site will be able to imagine.

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Wednesday, 10th May 2006

I believe that around this time of year the sun should be high enough in the evening to light up the front of the tomb, so I popped by to check it out. I was either half an hour too early or it won't happen for another few weeks. I'll be back soon to check it out.

The path from Brennanstown Vale has been cleared, including the removal of the large tree that you used to have to scramble over.

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Friday, 6th April 2007

A beautifully sunny Good Friday with the day off and news that Glendruid has been cleared. I had to come along and see for myself. Sadly I picked the wrong time of day for this time of year. I should have thought ahead and realised that the sun would be on the side of the tomb and that the portals would be in shade.

The clearance job has made a big difference. There are now no weeds of plants within 1.5m of the monument. Unfortunately, whoever cleared it didn't see fit to completely clear the patch of brambles just to the south of the tomb.

The back way to the tomb is a little tricky right now. The works associated with the Cherrywood spur of the Luas line have completely messed it up. Trees felled from the top of the banks have been left blocking the pathway along the river in several places. Hopefully, they'll tidy this up soon.

I took the time to take some detail shots of the tomb. While I was doing this I noticed something that I can't remember seeing before: the groove in the top of the capstone is well-documented, but today I noticed that there are short grooves at right angles to the main groove. These would have presumably helped direct water into the main channel. They appear at both ends of the main groove.

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

Thursday, 31st December 2009

Five years ago I came here on Christmas Day. I thought about doing the same this year, but didn't make it out. So, this being the last day of 2009 I decided to come here today.

The route alongside the Luas line was very muddy and the stream was very deep, so I am very glad that I wore my wellingtons. As I climbed back out of the valley to rejoin the Luas line route I was confronted by a fabulous view of Two Rocks Mountain, in particular the two granite tors at the southern end that give it its name. It's just possible that if the stream valley was cleared of trees then Glendruid portal tomb would be aligned to this mountain - the mountain top would probably be visible from the tomb along the sighted valley.

Saturday, 9th January 2010

I know I was only recently here, but I had to take the opportunity to see this site in some real snow. In 2004 I came here on Christmas Day in very light snow, but no one can call what we've had lately 'light snow'. Unfortunately, after making the effort (I walked the last mile or so to the site) the valley (and the high trees around the valley's edge) protect the site from the worst of the weather. The snow on the monument was only an inch or so deep. Nevertheless, it was virgin snow and I was the first person down here to capture it this year.

With the snow covering the ground and half-covering the masses of brambles it became very obvious that the brambles are encroaching ever closer to the monument itself. This little glade needs some serious maintenance. I'm going to talk to some people about it as soon as the weather clears up and see if anything can be done.

Like this monument

Marked Sites

Old Images

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<a href='/show/image/5324/glendruid.htm' class='redlink'>Permanent Link</a>_


From the N11 take the Cabinteely turn off and follow the road to wards Carrickmines. On the left, about 100m after a sharp right hand bend, you will see a house called Glen Druid and another called Dolmen House. The tomb is in a dip behind these houses.

Soon it will be possible to reach this tomb from Brennanstown Luas stop, but this will involve fording a stream.


The Alternative Route:

From Brennanstown Road turn into Brennanstown Vale. Follow the road around until you reach a turning circle in the road. Park around here. Just past the turning place there is a small trackway that leads to a gate. Walk down here and turn left after the gate - this is a disused railway line. Walk along the well-worn footpath until it crosses the river. Make you way down to the river bank (either climb down the 2m tall wall or carry on for a while along the railway track until you find a place where you feel comfortable making the descent). Carry on in the same direction for a few hundred metres. Eventually you will see that the trees on both banks open up and the capstone of the tomb should be visible on the far bank. Ford the river with great care here and you are at the tomb.

Please be very, very careful if following these directions. This is still not an easy route, but it is nicer than scrambling down the steep bank from the houses above.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Portal Tombs

External Links

Aerial Photo via AA-Roadwatch

A low-res aerial photo of the tomb (little grey speck).
Click here to visit this site

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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