'Baltinglass Hill' : Passage Tomb

Grid RefS 885 892
GPSS 88547 89241 (11m)
Longitude6° 40' 57.24" W
Latitude52° 56' 48.12" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBaltinglass (1.9 Km)
OS Sheet61
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This site has subsites

Baltinglass - Standing StoneBaltinglass - Chambered Cairn
Baltinglass - Kist
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 10th March 2002

What a place this is. There are actually three passage tombs in one huge (23m diam.) cairn. Sadly the cairn is robbed out, possibly to build the wall that has been erected around the site for protection (eh?).

I had to shelter from the wind, sorry, gales for a while in the one tomb. Here's what I wrote there.

(see fig. )(see fig. )(see fig. )(see fig.
Nearly Blown Off Top!!

Now sitting in round chamber next to huge carved bowl, sheltering from the gales outside. Open to the blue sky I sit writing constantly glancing to the 2m x 1m bowl to my right.

The mighty roof slabs lie outside, tipped back, torn from their place to allow access. Why didn't they knock like everyone else? One slab, above the bowl, still tries to do its duty and provide shelter.

Just outside is a kist, a lovely one too, just inside the massive kerb. The kerb stones are huge!!

Two other tombs are trashed - one (south) is a higgledy-piggledy mas of fallen orthostats - the other (west) has a collapsed corbelled roof, its passage still visible, one roof slab in place.

The one I'm sitting in (north) has two roof slabs on its passage. The chamber is made up of 10 or so large orthostats. The Bowl! The bowl again. This is 'magickal'. Was it blood, bones, ashes or water that filled it? What was put in here before the elements claimed it?

)(see fig. )(see fig. )(see fig. )

The bowl has a carving on the front that is very hard to make out due to wear and lichen.

If you can brave the incredible winds here then visit Baltinglass Hill and be amazed!

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Sunday, 22nd October 2006

At least today wasn't as windy as the last time I came up here. It's hard to believe that was four and a half years ago. It was very cloudy at the top when I set out, though. Luckily this had cleared by the time I reached the top with very wet legs - 150m of the walk is through waist-high bracken and it had rained the night before.

One of the reasons for my re-climb of this hill was to see if I could see any traces of the single carved stone in the SW tomb, but sadly there are none.

Without a gale-force wind trying to blow me of the top of the hill I was able to take in some of the views. These weren't extensive due to the low cloud still hanging around in places. The view west is over Kildare, which is pretty flat. To the southwest you can see the hills beyond Carlow. It is the view to the east, into the Wicklow Mountains, that is really interesting though. From here you look out onto Brusselstown Ring (County Wicklow), Boleycarrigeen (County Wicklow) and Keadeen (County Wicklow).

How's this for a theory? I believe that Boleycarrigeen stone circle was placed so that Baltinglass passage tomb would be just visible around the northern side of Boleycarrigeen Hill. Sadly, until the trees are cleared from around the circle we'll never know for sure.

Saturday, 19th July 2008

The last time I was up here it was really cloudy. The first time I made the climb I nearly got blown of the top. This time the weather was wonderful!

The climb from the west is getting harder, because the belt of gorse is getting epically impenetrable. Even without having to fight your way through this the hill is cruelly steep. Note to self: must find an easier route if I ever return.

This trip was made with Ken Williams with the aim of finding the carvings on two of the orthstats of the southern tomb and on several of the kerbstones. We didn't find the carved kerbstones, but we did locate the carvings in the southern tomb. These are invisible to the naked eye, but some side flash brought them out. As usual my images using this technique aren't brilliant, but the carvings can be seen.

With the weather being so good today I was able to enjoy the fantastic views from the top. The southern tomb seems to be aligned on Mount Leinster. Brandon hill makes an appearance on the horizon, just poking up above some intervening hills. There are some alignments here, of that I'm sure, but I'm not sure if it'll be me that climbs back up to check them out.

Like this monument

Marked Sites

Site Plans

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I have a feeling I went the hard way. Enter Baltinglass and drive to the cemetery on the hill and park. Walk along the path/track that runs up the side of the cemetery and enter the fields. From here walk onwards and upwards. Eventually you will see what appears to be a cashel style wall on the south peak. The tombs are inside this enclosure.


There are actually three passage tombs here, all of different designs.

B1 is a round chamber (2m diam) with walls made up by orthostats.

B2 is possibly cruciform. Hard to tell.

B3 had dry stone walls and a corbelled roof.

The carved bowl in B1 is 2m wide, 1m deep and .5m tall ... and beautiful.

There is also a later cist burial.

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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