Craigs Lower : Passage Tomb

CountyAntrim
Grid RefC 974 173
GPSC 97393 17287 (7m)
Longitude6° 28' 41.27" W
Latitude54° 59' 36.65" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownRasharkin (4.5 Km)
OS Sheet8
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 1st December 2002

This is a lovely passageless passage tomb , that is very close to the road with very good access. The single broad flat roofstone, which covers the entire chamber, has been glued back together very visibly. It rests on the top of some of the most extraordinary orthostats I have ever seen. These are each very slim and curve outwards, giving them the appearance of fingers rising out of the ground, delicately balancing the roofstone.

There is no sign of the cairn left now, but a smaller example of a similar monument can be seen closeby at Moneydig (County Derry) still embedded into its cairn.

Passage tombs are perhaps the most celebrated style of tombs, mainly due to the fantastic examples at Newgrange (County Meath), Knowth (County Meath) and Dowth (County Meath) in the Boyne Valley as well as those at Loughcrew (County Meath), which is by far the best place to experience these wonders.

The classical form of passage tomb is the cruciform style, where a long passage leads to a main chamber with 3 small chambers off, forming a cross when viewed from above. However, there are many other styles, some don't even have a passage! These other forms are with a round chamber (see Fourknocks (County Meath)), a polygonal chamber or in the form of a cross of Lorraine, which can be found at Seefin Hill (County Wicklow).

There is one form known as an undifferentiated passage tomb wherein the chamber is simply a broadening of the passage, such as at Matthewstown (County Waterford).

The passage and chamber was, once constructed, covered in a mound of earth or a stone cairn, which was in turn held in place with a kerb around its perimeter.

Perhaps what Irish passage tombs are most known for is the form of rock art more commonly called passage grave art, which can be seen in abundance along the Boyne Valley in the many cemeteries.

A barrow is essentially a mound of earth over one or more burials. They are more usually to be dated to the Bronze Age. There are many forms of barrow including ring, bowl, long and bell barrows.

Ring barrows are formed by digging a circular trench or fosse around a central burial, with no mound.

Bowl barrows are formed by heaping up soil over the burial(s) from a surrounding fosse, these often have an external bank too (see Ballyremon Commons (County Wicklow)).

Bell barows are simply round mounds with no fosse or external bank.

Long barrows are rare in Ireland and are more common in southwest England. Their shape is basically ovoid rather than round (see Ballynoe (County Down))

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.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Sunday, 18th February 2007

The views from this site are amazing. As the monument is built on a gentle west-facing slope the views over the Bann Valley in that direction are very extensive.

There is actually a second roofstone at the west end of the structure, but this has slipped off one of its supporting orthostats . It isn't very obvious unless you look through the chamber from the rear and I totally failed to see it on my previous visit.

Apparently the tomb was covered in an earth mound until mid-1800s. When this was removed a burial urn was discovered in the chamber.

A barrow is essentially a mound of earth over one or more burials. They are more usually to be dated to the Bronze Age. There are many forms of barrow including ring, bowl, long and bell barrows.

Ring barrows are formed by digging a circular trench or fosse around a central burial, with no mound.

Bowl barrows are formed by heaping up soil over the burial(s) from a surrounding fosse, these often have an external bank too (see Ballyremon Commons (County Wicklow)).

Bell barows are simply round mounds with no fosse or external bank.

Long barrows are rare in Ireland and are more common in southwest England. Their shape is basically ovoid rather than round (see Ballynoe (County Down))

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Like this monument

Marked Sites

Directions

From Rasharkin take the B62 north. 800m after passing the junction with the B70 take a right turn. Follow this road to a t-junction and turn left. After 700m you come to a lane on the right hand side of the road. The tomb is just inside the field through the gate opposite this lane and visible from the road.

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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