Ahaglaslin : Portal Tomb

Grid RefW 307 363
GPSW 30714 36270 (5m)
Longitude8° 59' 58.28" W
Latitude51° 34' 29.57" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownRoss Carbery (2.2 Km)
OS Sheet89
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 14th September 2003

County Cork has just two portal tombs and both are in extreme locations one way or another. This one is situated high up on the side of a steep hillside overlooking a meandering stream.

The portal stones have collapsed slightly and the chamber is covered in ivy, which has now taken hold on the tip of the capstone making it resemble the much 'hairier' tomb at Fenagh Beg (County Leitrim).

To the front of the portal stones are several low set stones, which appear to be the remains of a small court.

This is not an easy site to reach, access involves a tricky descent down on to the ledge upon which the tomb is built. This ledge appears to have been made just for the purpose of locating the monument there.

Looking westward it is possible to see the stone circle at Bohonagh (County Cork).

Access to this tomb is via a farm to the west and the farmer is very friendly. After giving me directions, which I totally failed to follow, he came across the fields when he saw me struggling and too me to the tomb.

At the time of my visit there was a lot of bracken and gorse around the tomb making it very difficult to see properly. However, the farmer does burn this off once a year and so I will watch out when I pass to see if I can get a better view.

Two stones place either side of a gallery, opposite each other, but not touching so as to leave a gap, that are used to segment it into smaller 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.

Stones circles, put quite simply, are rings of standing stones, although not all of them are cicular, many being eliptical. Many have definite layout plans and often stone circles in one region share a similar style, e.g. Cork features many axial stones circles, where a recumbent stones faces an apparent entrance into the circle (see Drombeg (County Cork)).

They are the most well known of megalithic monuments and the ones most likely to capture anyone's imagination. Many theories exist about the original purpose of these enigmatic structures, the most popular (and at times most controversial) one is that they were built as astronomical observatories, many having apparent solar alignments with the sunrise and sunsets at the solstices and equinoxes. Lunar and star alignments have also ben noted.

No matter what the exact purpose it is certain that they played a significant role in the ritual or religious lives of the builders. One thing that nearly everyone has in common is that they are located in the most dramatic of places, usually offering unrivalled views.

Quite often other monuments, such as alignments, cairns, boulder burials or outliers, are to be found in close proximity to stone circles.

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Saturday, 9th July 2005

Some recent photos of this site taken without any vegetation around it inspired me to come back. Sadly I had left it too long: the tomb was once again half-buried in the bracken.

Well, not to be beaten, we spent some time stomping the vegetation down to get a better view.

A small note about the farmer - The first time I visited here he was really kind and showed me where the site was. This time he seemed to be very aggressive, but eventually let us visit the site. He wasn���t in the kind of mood where I wanted to ask him anything, but I suspect he may be a little annoyed at people visiting the site from the road below and not asking him. Please, whenever possible always ask to visit sites.

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Random Gazetteer

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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