Burren : Wedge Tomb

CountyCavan
Grid RefH 074 353
GPSH 07439 35259 (3m)
Longitude7° 53' 8.95" W
Latitude54° 15' 57.69" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownSwanlinbar (14.3 Km)
OS Sheet26
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

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Burren - Cairn
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Visit Notes

Saturday, 17th March 2007

This site is marked on the OS map as a cairn , which is why I didn't visit it when I was last here. However, it is a rather large wedge tomb .

The gallery is about 10m long and 2m wide. A lot of the structural stones have been robbed away, but even so it's still impressive. There are two large entrance stones, some side slabs in thr front section of the gallery. The rear of the tomb is far more impressive with two large, but broken roof slabs in place. The largest of these is over 2m square.

Around the rear wall slabs there are a few small stones which may be very diminuitive double walling or possibly buttress stones. A few stones 3m or so from the rear of the gallery may be from the kerb .

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.

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 kerb is a ring of stones placed around the perimeter of a burial mound or cairn. It basically serves the purpose of a retaining wall to keep the cairn or earth in place. Kerbs are usually associated with passage tombs, but do occur on court tombs and wedge tombs too.

Sometimes on passage tombs the stones can bear decoration, such as at Newgrange (County Meath).

Sunday, 29th June 2008

Today the sun was shining making the scene very pretty with the dappled light coming through the trees onto the stones, but a pain to photograph because of the heavy contrast.

Sites like this are best visited in even ambient light if you want to take pictures or strong sunlight if you want a nice scene.

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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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