Baurnadomeeny : Wedge Tomb

Grid RefR 847 601
GPSR 84660 60055 (7m)
Longitude8° 13' 36.82" W
Latitude52° 41' 29.38" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownCappamore (11.2 Km)
OS Sheet59
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

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Baurnadomeeny - Standing Stone
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 10th November 2002

I cannot really find the right words to express my feelings when I saw this one. I was like a big kid with a new toy. This has to be the most intact wedge tomb that I have ever seen. Why isn't this more widely known?

The 9m diameter kerb is complete and consists of stones around 30cm high, except for one on the north which is double that. All the roof stones, complete with some cairn material, above the 4m long gallery are still present, as is the back stone. This, however, is low enough to leave a small gap through which you can enter the gallery.

Oddly it is aligned north-south, which is usually a feature of court tombs and may have something to do with its proximity to Shanballyedmond (County Tipperary). At the south end (the front) is an almost perfect portico or ante-chamber. This is 1.3m deep and 1.7m wide and covered by two slabs (one of which is broken). The rear one is supported in the middle by a single monolith in the centre and the front one rests on one of the facade stones. This chamber is further segmented by a low slab running from the monolith to the facade.

Whenever I'm close to this one I will definitely go back and I recommend, no I insist, that anyonethat heads down to this area goes to see it too.

Wedge tombs are most easily catagorised by their main characteristic - they are taller and wider at the entrance than they are at the rear. Like court tombs they have a gallery which is split either by septal slabs or sill stones into smaller chambers. Galleries can be anything up to 8m in length.

The side walls are, uniquely, made of two rows of stones (three in some cases), which is refered to as double or triple walling. This double walling is perhaps the best feature to identify a wedge tomb by.

The roofs are constructed by laying large blocks or slabs across the gallery, resting on the tops of the walls.

They are often quite small, an amazing exception being Labbacallee (County Cork), one of the largest in Ireland. It is very rare to find a wedge tomb with its roof still in situ, although, occasionally, one or two of the roof slabs are present (see Proleek (County Louth)).

In some examples the roof would have extended beyond the front closing slab forming a portico at the front, which in a few specimens was split by a vertical stone place centrally in the entrance.

Like court tombs, portal tombs and passage tombs they were covered by a cairn, which, at many sites, it is still often possible to determine. A few, such as Burren SW (County Cavan), still retain a large proportion of the cairn.

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.

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.

Friday, 31st December 2004

I was rather hoping that somebody may have come along since my last visit and cleared the site up a bit, but they haven't. The trees in front of the entrance and portico really need to be removed.

I had mainly come back here to check out the carvings inside the portico, which I had forgotten about when I was last here. These carvings are unique on a wedge tomb and so are very important. Why more isn't done to keep this monument in good order is beyond me - it is signposted as part of the Silvermine Mountain Trail afterall.

The carving is just visible on the lefthand side stone of the portico as you look into it. They are extremely faint, but you can just make out the checkerboard or ladder pattern beneath the lichen. The stone is very soft and a serious thump would probably see it peel away.

The gallery is aligned ENE-WSW with the entrance at the west end. It has been built where it is because the alignment of the gallery point straight at the western summit of Mother Mountain (Mauherslieve), which overlooks the site.

Whilst climbing inside through the rear of the tomb I noticed an unusual groove on the underside of the rearmost capstone. This is about 10cm wide and at an angle to the axis of the gallery. In fact it is cut to align east-west and points at the point where the steep slopes of Mother Mountain level out onto its low foothills. An equinox sunrise visit may be in order here!

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A Selection of Other Wedge 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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