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


Wedge Tomb


The Caher river valley runs roughly north-south through the townland of Derrynavahagh. North of the townland there is a crossroads in Formoyle East where the Burren Way crosses, having descended from the northern slopes of Sliabh Eilbhe, heading east towards Gleninagh mountain. We had been further back along the Way earlier at Ballyelly enclosure and wedge tomb, but had spun our way around back up through Fanore and onto the Caher Valley road. I had kind of a loose plan that had gone out the window a few sites back so here we were, south of the crossroads, in the thick hazel scrub that has colonised so many parts of the Burren.

There is probably a better, safer, easier way to Derrynavahagh wedge tomb, south from the Burren Way perhaps, across the limestone pavement, but hindsight is a great thing. Right now I had a carload of barely interested teenagers and a half-interested friend, and even though Derrynavahagh is one of the finest examples in the Burren, I was close to giving up when I asked, “well, are yous up for it or what?” Up for it, as it turned out, was climbing up from the road south of the crossroads, after we had found a spot where the scrub had thinned out. After a few shrugs, and a sort of explanation of what ‘it’ entailed, we headed up.

The Burren terrain rises and falls in a series of terraces. Often the climb from one terrace to the other is only 10 metres. From what I could make out from the satellite photo I had (ah the pleasures of modern technology), we’d have a series of three climbs and a half a kilometre of a walk over varying ground. The ascent from the road to gain the first scrub-covered terrace was the hardest. The second ascent left us on our first bit of raw limestone pavement. This is what the Burren is really about and my companions were delighted. I headed for the third ascent and over to the tomb.

It’s semi-surrounded by a modern stone wall and is a stunner. Largely intact and isolated, it’s kind of an introverted megalithic explorer’s ultimate dream. It has the wedge shape, take-off and landing-strip profile that we all know and love. The massive capstone has broken at the rear of the chamber and doesn’t reach the backstone. There are a couple of slabs lying around that are or were part of the tomb but I couldn’t make out from whence they came. The triple walling on the eastern side is phenomenal, with the 2 metre tall standing stone beyond the chamber opening almost like a sentinel standing guard.

Aside from the magnificence of the tomb, the location has to be commented on. To the east the ridge rises towards Faunarooska townland with its three ruined tombs. West and south-west across the Caher river valley is the broad expanse of Sliabh Eilbhe, with its craggy terracing. North towards Black Head is Gleninagh mountain. It’s an area rich in isolated wonders and, without sounding like a tourist rep. or salesman, one could spend weeks here, lost in the mesmerising views both near and far, endlessly pondering the beauty and magnificence of the world.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
10th August 2020ce
Edited 22nd August 2020ce

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