This giant wedge tomb is really worth seeking out. Tucked away in some woods, close to a golf course this tomb lies on the slopes of Two Rocks Mountain. The preservation is incredible, presumably some of which was done when it was excavated. There used to be a fine view to the south but this is now sadly blocked by the trees.
There chamber is no longer sealed as the roof has collapsed in. The typical double lined walls extend out to form a U-shaped gallery . The kerb stones still retain some of the cairn material, but unfortunately the cairn has long since gone. As usual with these types of tomb it is known locally as 'The Giants Grave".
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 compartment in a tomb in which burials were placed. In court tombs and wedge tombs a chamber is a sub-division of the burial gallery. Portal tombs have single chambers and passage tombs can have anything from one to five chambers, although usually passage tombs are considered to have a main chamber with extra subsidary chambers.
In wedge tombs and court tombs the burial compartment is known as a gallery and collectively wedge and court tombs are called classified as 'gallery graves'. This is because the inner area is long and narrow, i.e. bascially rectangular, in plan.
In court tombs the gallery is usually divided into two or more chambers by jambs. Wedge tombs are segmented by sill stones, as are a few court tombs.
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).
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.
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I revisited this site with a friend, Gabi, choosing this site because of its outstanding state of preservation and closeness to home. I noticed another stone with shallow cup marks on this trip.
I don't think that either of my companions this morning were really ready this beauty. They commented that in so many instances in the UK you would travel a long way to see a site like this and then return home, where as we had seen seven already in the space of two hours or so. Ireland's wealth started to sink in.
Typical! On the way back here it started to rain again! So we decided to go anyway thinking that the tress might provide some protection from the weather, but no, the wind had died and the rain was vertical. Never mind, discovering this great site in its sylvan glade is always worth the walk even through rain. It's a real shame though that the views have been hidden by the same trees that provide this setting.
It has been 20-30 years since Anthony was last here and so we popped in to see the changes. Gone are the views, now obscured by trees.
I actually found some angles that I have not photgraphed this place from which is rather good. These are the wide shots below.
Always a good place to start a little tour. I can also now tell people that it looked much better than this before they excavated it - take a look at the sketches in Ordnance Survey Letters of County Dublin. It used to be over 6 feet tall.
This is always such a good place to start showing somwone around. The magic of the first glimpse through the trees is always a treat to behold. I do wish, however, that they'd open up the views to The Great Sugar Loaf mountain.
It's almost impossible to get a good GPS fix at the tomb, because of the closeness of the trees. It looks as if the trees on Two Rocks Mountain are starting to be felled, so hopefully, sometime soon the views to the south east may be opened up - albeit briefly.
The view from here to The Great Sugar Loaf is to the SE and it's just possible that the Winter Solstice sun rises to one side of the mountain. I think I'll have to check it out this year.
From the N11 take the R116 through Kiltiernan and on to Glencullen. At Johnny Fox's Pub turn right. After about 3/4 mile you will see a golf course on the left. Continue past the course for a few hundred metres until you reach a gate on the left (between a bungalow and a farm). Park here and walk along the path from this gate turning left when you reach the woods. Follow the track around the edge of the golf course until it turns sharply right. Go right and keep looking into the trees on your right and you will see the stones through the trees. You can not miss it.
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.