Annaghmore : Portal Tomb

Grid RefN 141 926
GPSN 14115 92574 (5m)
Longitude7° 47' 7.21" W
Latitude53° 52' 56.5" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownMohill (6.8 Km)
OS Sheet34
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 13th October 2002

It's always good practice to go to a roadside site expecting very little. If you do that with this little portal tomb you'll be in for a big surpise, because it's lovely!!! I was amazed - I had seen some poor photos of it on the internet but they had not quite prepared me for the utter cuteness of this nobbly beast.

The drive to here was an interesting one. I spent most of the journey leaning forward with my nose pressed up againt the windscreen peering into the fog, but as I approach Leitrim it started to break up and I was to be treated to sun for the rest of the day.

Anyway, back to this little unsung gem. It is situated in a little roadside niche under a nice big tree. The 2m x 1.6m capstone is wonderfully bummpy and featuresome (now there's a new word!) and oh so very, very tactile.

The whole thing is wonderfully intact, with some minor collapsing of one of the chamber walls. The two portal stones highlight a great archetectural feature of the tomb. The capstone is stepped along the front edge and to compensate for this the portal stones are of unequal height (1.6m and 1.3m), thus making the capstone level. Brilliant!

Why this one hasn't been more highly praised is beyond me. A lovely, lovely little tomb, only let down slightly by its immediate roadside position.

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.

Portal stones are a pair of upright stones that form the 'entrance' to a portal tomb. They are usually well matched, being of even dimensions. As well as forming this doorway they also act as the front support for the capstone and are usually taller than the stones that form the chamber.

Often there is a door stone in between them blocking off access to the chamber within.

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Sunday, 18th September 2005

On the way to revisiting this monument I had tried to locate the very ruined portal tomb in the townland of Melkagh, but failed. I wanted to see how they both related to Corn Hill (County Longford). This one is located such that the hill seems to occupy a position on the top of a nearby low ridge. It's as if the hill has been kidnapped and moved in the landscape to be closer. If this was an intention of the builders (and I think it probably was) then the spot has been chosen very carefully. If it wasn't intentional then it's a lovely conincidental effect!

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)).

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Sunday, 15th April 2007

I really should put a big marks next to this site on the OS map. I keep coming back here not remembering which on it is. The problem is that the site is right next to a fold in the map and the townland name is over the fold.

The light was very different to any other time I've been here so I was able to take some more photos of it looking slightly different.

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Like this monument

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A Selection of Other Portal 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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