'Cnocan an lolair' : Passage Tomb

TownlandKnockananiller Hill
Grid RefO 019 237
GPSO 01942 23723 (5m)
Longitude6° 28' 20.66" W
Latitude53° 15' 14.71" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownKill (8 Km)
OS Sheet50
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 9th September 2001

Sitting in a field to the north of the plantation this cairn and tomb pair are a spectacular combination, despite the tomb being so ruined. The cairn is a massive 20m in diameter and 4m high. From the top it is easy to see the remaining orthostats of the tomb poking through the remains of the mound.

To the west of the chamber there is a significant banked circle that was possibly a courtyard.

Offering a spectacular view this place is a dream. Shame it's in a field fenced with barbed wire.

A cairn is a large pile of stones, quite often (but not always) containing a burial. Sometimes they have a kerb around the base.

Most cairns are hemi-spherical (like half a football), but the piles of stones used to cover wedge tombs, court tombs and portal tombs are also called cairns. When associated with these types of monument they are not always round, but sometimes rectangular or trapezoidal.

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.

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Sunday, 1st August 2004

This morning's plan was to go to Lugg near Saggart Hill and watch the Lughnasadh sun rise above Howth. Unfortunately the pine plantation on Lugg itself is too dense to see this happen, so I went one better and came here. But first a little more about this little passage tomb ...

The passage is aligned northeast and so to the mid-winter solstice sunrise - another one to test out at some point. From here Howth can be seen in the notch formed between the hills of Lugg and Verschoyles Hill. Once again this seems to be another monument located so that Howth appears in a special way in the landscape. There are six orthostats to the passage and a sill stone can be seen at the northeast end.

This morning's sunrise was superb. As the sun peeked above the horizon at 05:39 it seemed to hover above Lugg just as I had thought it would do. I had made a slight miscalculation in its precise location though and was pleasantly surprised to see it rise right behind Ireland's Eye - the small island to the north of Howth. As the sun rose its reflection in the sea between DUblin and Howth was an impressive sight. Dublin has expanded to the east by at least a mile and 4000 years ago there would have been no land visible between the top of Lugg and Howth. Bearing this in mind, it would have looked as if there were two suns then - the false one appearing as a reflection between Howth and the top of Lugg ... very, very impressive!

After seeing this today I am in no doubt that this cairn and passage tomb were built here to mark this very special sunrise. I think it most probable that Lughnasadh festivals were held at this cairn in the past.

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Marked Sites


The easiest way to reach this site is from the car park at grid reference O 024 235. From there walk up hill through the woods until out reach a track and head north until you reach a t-junction. Turn left and follow the track to the right. The cairn can be seen to the right of the track and the tomb is in a field to the north of the cairn.


The GPS coordinates for the cairn are O 01918 23692.

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Passage 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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