The day just gets better! I was not expecting to see what is presented to you here on the map. I can usually imagine what the views are like from looking at an OS but this is beyond my imagination.
The newer OS map marks this site as Megalithic Tomb, the older maps showed two tombs side by side which is more correct. The two adjacent cairns actually house at least four chambers each all set into the western face pointing directly at a huge flat topped mountain, "Benbo". I am positive that these tombs are located here for the sole purpose of watching the sun set on the equinoxes into the small dip on Benbo's ridge.
Behind and to the east of the tombs small but wonderful limestone pavements extend backwards riddled with deep parallel grooves, natural cups and holes. The tombs are made out of sheets of this limestone and have some fantastic holes and weathering too.
A little higher up and to the north is a perfect little picnic area and indeed that is exactly what we did here. Sitting, chatting and eating slowly while looking down upon the cairns below and out over the valley and the amazing views on offer. It doesn't come much better than this!
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Just past one o'clock and I felt it was time to go somewhere to stop and eat and relax a little and this seemed like the perfect place. I also wanted to take a proper look at these odd remains to make some real sense of them. I have to admit that I couldn't really remember exactly what is left.
The north tomb (GPS = G 89904 36933) is most perplexing at first, at least until you realise that half the gallery stones have been removed and the slabs at the northernmost end are the remains of jambs . The court is filled in and would have been very long and narrow. The south end of this cairn , where the subsidiary chambers are, is actually pointing in a different direction to the part with the gallery in. There is a definite bend visible on the east side and this kink makes the rear of the cairn align with the south cairn.
The south cairn (GPS = G 89937 36979) is far less complicated and seems to have been built 'as is'. It aligns with a notch in the nearby hills to the southwest. The court is either very well hidden below collapsed rubble or has been removed.
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.
Two stones place either side of a gallery, opposite each other, but not touching so as to leave a gap, that are used to segment it into smaller chambers.
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.
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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.