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


Portal Tomb


Rathkenny is a relatively isolated North Meath townland, just west of the hills that include the Slieve Beagh barrow cemetery. It’s off the beaten track, about 10 miles north-west of the Brú na Bóinne complex. I visited here maybe 12 years ago but never posted any pictures, for some unknown reason.

A public road ends where a farm track begins, leading to the big old house where we asked permission to visit the tomb. Duly granted we headed off into the pasture field where the remains lie. The ring barrow that you meet as you head over from the gate was a pleasant surprise. It’s quite low but is very noticeable and there are many large stones in its fosse that may have come from the tomb.

All that remains are a large, chunky capstone leaning on an upright stone, presumably a portal stone from this destroyed portal tomb. The top of the capstone is heavily marked with solution pits and cupmarks, some of which are said to have been artificially enhanced. There are many linear scorings on the capstone too, all of which seem ancient. I speculated that the tomb had been destroyed by the time the bronze-age barrow builders constructed the tomb to its west and had used the stone to sharpen their swords, but maybe I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones lately. The tomb was in this condition when Borlase visited it in the late nineteenth century. He noticed, and gives a drawing of, some circular markings on both the underside of the capstone and the northern face of the upright. I only remembered these after I got back home (The circles on the underside of the capstone are actually visible in one of the shots I've posted here). Oh well.

Some friendly horses sauntered over to visit us as we were there. The ground rises to the east to the wooded hills of Simpson’s mountain, which in turn hides the higher ground, further east, of Slieve Beagh with the aforementioned barrow cemetery. Further east again is the decorated stone of Mullagharoy, a standing stone with passage tomb art.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
4th March 2021ce
Edited 4th March 2021ce

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