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

Ballynamona Lower

Court Tomb


We visited Ballynamona on a drizzly, mid-August day, a day untypical of the sunny summer we've had this year. Ballynamona is deep in the Waterford Gaelteacht, a place where the usual bi-lingual signposting is dropped and everything is in Irish only. However, this convention in turn is dropped when you get to the end of the driveable track, where one neighbour has seen fit to post a "BEWARE, ATTACK DOG LOOSE" sign right next to the last, tree-lined track that leads to the field where the tomb lies. This is very intimidating, and it almost worked, but I reckoned I would never come back here and I really wanted to see Ireland's most southerly court tomb, so with a bit of convincing and coaxing of 9-year-old LM we opened the gate and headed up the track (in the end there was no attack dog to be seen or heard, signs like these judiciously used to put off the intrepid amateur archaeologist and the stoner hippy alike).

At the end of the track we reached a barley field that had been harvested quite a while earlier in the year and headed over to where the tomb lies. I had expected a fenced-in tomb in a clearing at the side of the field, judging from the shots here and elsewhere. What we found, eventually, was a bracken, gorse and bramble covered neglected mess. The fence is gone, or buried under the bracken, and the bracken and gorse has overgrown the tomb.

I was disheartened and disappointed. The gallery of the tomb was visible, but all the court stones were inundated. I took a few shots and started to head off, saddened by the neglect and seeming disdain. We reached the edge of the barley field and talked about how we'd probably never return - this is an isolated spot, not really on the way to anywhere. LM asked me why I bother and I said without the likes of us, these sites could be lost altogether (there was a faint track to the tomb from the barley field so someone does come here occasionally).

We turned back and headed through the jungle. Neither of us were dressed for the brambles but we persevered. Rooting around by the large stone on the western arm of the court I found the Bord Fáilte sign and its post, dumped there unceremoniously. I used this to tamp down the bracken around the gallery to give it some breathing space. I also found one of the staves from the fence which I used to bash back some of the gorse and brambles. I tamped down the bracken within the chamber/gallery of the tomb with my feet. And there it was, quite an impressive court tomb, with stones remaining on both arms of its court and a fairly complete gallery. Uncovered and opened out, the tomb regained a bit more majesty and we were grateful to the ancestors for leaving this place for us.

Leaving, I felt a certain sense of self-justification – this stone-hunting is not everyone's cup of tea, it's mainly the domain of eccentrics and, eh, stoners. It flashes into the broader consciousness occasionally when a spectacular like the recent stuff at Newgrange and Dowth makes the news. And then it's forgotten about once again, left to the likes of LM and me to uncover once again, attack dogs in our own right.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
16th August 2018ce

Comments (2)

Keep on attacking, Ryaner. It sounds like a job that was worth doing and a job well done. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th August 2018ce
Thanks Rhiannon. ryaner Posted by ryaner
18th August 2018ce
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