|Cairn D - Loughcrew - Cairn||Cairn F - Loughcrew - Passage Tomb|
|Cairn H - Loughcrew - Passage Tomb||Cairn I - Loughcrew - Passage Tomb|
|Cairn L - Loughcrew - Passage Tomb|
We were shown the way here by a local farmer, 84 years old with some stories to tell. To reach this you walk passed cairn O without noticing it and pass Newtown Hill with its solitary, broken cairn (M) on top.
Carnbane West has a stunning 9 on top of it, labeled B,D,E,F,G,H,J,K,L. Of these cairn L is by far the most amazing. Like cairn T on Carnbane East it is complete and sadly locked (remember get the key next time). Cairn F held some surprises such as fantastic carvings, including sun motifs as found at Dowth, and when you sit at the back of the chamber and look out the entrance you are presented with cairn T on Carnbane East framed beautifully.
Cairn H is like cairn U on Carnbane East, an exposed cruciform chamber but with part of the passage roof in place.
Cairns E, D and B are pretty derelict. There is one huge cairn (D I think) that must be 10m high, but sadly completely robbed out in the center (perhaps to build the nearby stone wall).
Cairns J and G are also pretty robbed out. The amount of carving on this site is staggering, both in quantity and quality. Well worth the 1 km walk from the road.
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Not having the key to Cairn L dampened my mood somewhat while walking across the field and up the hill to this sprawling necropolis, but a surprise awaited.
We stood outside, looking in, trying to make out details of the inside when it was noticed that it is possible to slither under the gate and gain entry. I shouldn't condone doing this because getting stuck inside would be pretty nasty especially if you're there on your own. Please be careful if you try.
The inside of this tomb is simple amazing. The large, white free standing stone is a beautiful site and the huge bowl in the recess next to it is fantastic at over 1.6m x 1m.
The carvings behind the bowl have spawned many theories including one recently that suggests it represents a solar eclipse. This is a fair interpretation of two circles over lapping, but the fact that the 'rear' one is smaller than the front one somehow goes against this idea in my mind.
The layout is different to that inside Cairn T and has two small chambers on either side and a chamber facing the passage, but for me the presence of the free standing stone is the best part of it.
We also came across what appears to be a broken solid quartz standing stone that would have stood some 1.8m+ tall. This is situated at the extreme west of the hill top behind Cairn B (the very large one).
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We spent about 3 hours really studying the monuments on the hill this time. A visitor before us had removed the clasp that fastens the gate on Cairn L and so we could have a good mooch inside. I had brought my torch along this time (just in case) and we were able to experiment with lighting the carvings with that.
I ventured into the field to the south of the huge cairn B and came across a standing stone (near to a little grove of trees) and a curious arrangement of stones that could be a very small cairn kerb or a little stone circle - if anyone knows for definite I'd love to know.
The best way to see Carbane West is to park in the car park at N 53 775. To reach this take the R163 west from Kells and join the R154. At Patrickstown bear left (the R154 carries straight on but looks like a separate road) and turn right where you see the signs for Loughcrew Megalithic Graves. The car park is over the brow of the hill along this road. I believe the keys are available in Newtown, where this turning is. Walk back up the road you drove along for about 500m, where in a field to the right you will see a standing stone and a white sign. Walk through this field. I have been told that the land owner is a bit grumpy, but he can do nothing to stop you crossing this land.
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.