Moylisha : Wedge Tomb

CountyWicklow
Grid RefS 931 675
Longitude6° 37' 15.78" W
Latitude52° 45' 2.17" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownShillelagh (5.9 Km)
OS Sheet62
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 4th November 2001

This is a sad place. Perhaps once it would have been a splendid as Haroldstown dolmen, which it echoes in style. It is now completely collapsed and is hard to spot amongst the other piles of stone on the edge of this field.

There is the possible remains of a courtyard to the front.

Sunday, 9th February 2003

Yes, yes, I know! I got it wrong last time. I was 200m out, but what I saw before is definitely a structure of sorts. Anyway, today I finally made it to Moylisha tomb. A beautifully situated tomb with fantastic views.

When I arrived there a lovely couple were there with their two daughters, who were very ruddy cheeked from the wind. I imagine that they thought I was mad, walking up a hill with a step ladder on my shoulder! We chatted for a while and then they left, leaving me to investigate this fine wedge tomb .

The gallery has fine double walling with clear remnants of the facade in place. To on side of the tomb the roofslabs lie where they have been tipped off, forming a pavement alongside the gallery. One roofstone is in situ and to the rear of the gallery is a subsidary chamber similar to that found at Ballyedmonduff (County Dublin).

The site was excavated in 1937 and pot sherds, stone discs and some spear molds were found. I cannot remember where I read it, but the National Museum has some spearheads that were cast in these moulds.

The tomb is aligned east-west with the entrance to the west, in front of which there may have been a forecourt.

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.

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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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