The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Portal Tomb


About half a mile off the main road between Newry and Kilkeel, in the townland of Kilfeaghan, in the "Kingdom" of Mourne, there is a field in which stands a large granite block, looking to the casual eye as if it rested on a heap of small stones, and had rolled down from the mountain above. On a closer examination the tops of two large stones supporting the granite block will be seen, proving it to be a cromlech.

On making enquiries, I found that within the last fifty years or more it had been usual for the farmer on whose land it is to throw all the small stones from the surrounding fields not only all round the cromlech, but also underneath it.

I, therefore, had the stones cleared out from the chamber underneath; and, to give an idea of the amount which it took to fill it, I may say that it took three men working hard from eleven o'clock until six to get to the bottom, which was 9 feet below the cap-stone. On digging down they came upon a good deal of black mould, which was very carefully sifted, but nothing was found except some small pieces of charred wood amongst the mould, and some sea-shells; but these may have got in at a date later than the erection of the cromlech, as at some time or other it had evidently been disturbed.*

Indeed, one old man told me that fifty years ago, before the stones were put underneath, his father had dug down and had come upon a stone covering the mould, which he said had curious markings on it; that the stone was thrown out, and a gentleman staying in the neighbourhood at the time saw it and took it away with him, saying he would get the markings on it deciphered; but what became of them no one knows.

... I may also add that it is called by the country people Cloghogle; but as no Irish has been spoken for two generations thereabouts, they are quite unaware of the appropriateness of the name.**
*Sea shells would still be quite peculiar, having not got there by themselves? Although they could have been from a picnic of any era I suppose :)

**The Ulster Place Names website says "Megalithic stone tombs are often called Cloghogle or Cloghtogle from cloch thógala: "lifted stone".

From 'Kilfeaghan Cromlech, County Down' by Stanley Howard, in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, v15, Sept 1905.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th October 2010ce
Edited 25th October 2010ce

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