'Carrowkeel - Cairn B' : Passage Tomb

Grid RefG 745 116
Longitude8° 23' 21.82" W
Latitude54° 3' 10.35" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBallymote (9.3 Km)
OS Sheet25
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This is a subsite of:

Carrowkeel - Passage Tomb Cemetery
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 29th December 2002

As you drive up the track to Carrowkeel you cross a cattle grid. This marks the entrance to the preserved area. If you look up to your right you can see some amazing cliffs. Cairn B is situated at the top of these. reaching it is a pretty daunting prospect. It is possible to reach it via a 2km walk along the ridge from the south, but an approach from this end is also possible ... if you're VERY careful!

To reach it, walk up the steep hillside just inside the park area skirting the thorn trees. You will then reach the cliff face. Walk along the base of this and over the fence into the next field. From here you can work your way around the cliff and up on to the top.

Eventually you will reach this magnificent cairn ... probably the best preserved here. The passage faces almost north like Seefin Hill (County Wicklow) and Fourknocks (County Meath). This is a very rare example of an intact undifferentiated passage tomb and when inside I was reminded of similar monuments on the Isles of Scilly.

In the back are three stones arranged to form a bench, upon which it is lovely to sit and write notes - the large entrance and wide passage allowing a lot of light to enter. If you can make the climb to this one then I must insist that you try. It is very unspoiled up here and I don't think you'll be interupted much.

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.

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Saturday, 3rd May 2003

Are we mad? It's pouring with rain and I talk Julian into climbing up the steep slope to Cairn B! But this little gem is always worth the climb. Keshcorran cairn was still visible when we reached the top, but it soon disappeared into the rain and cloud.

We sat at the back of the tomb, on the little bench structure, and chilled out for a while in the vain hope that the weather would improve ... no chance! We considered walking down the long way (to the south), but decided to go down as we had approached at the north end. It was actually a lot easier than the climb up.

Like this monument

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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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