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


Court Tomb


Mautiagh – (maw-teeah – An Mháiteach [on vaw-chock] – the flooded place) townland spreads steeply north up the hill above Glenaniff valley. On the OS map there is a clear track up from the road and it’s directly aligned onto the tomb. It’s also there on the vector map at the Historic Environment Viewer, as clear as day. Go to the satellite image and it’s there too – it meanders up, zig-zagging in the lower reaches but straightens out eventually.

We knocked at the house on the road at the beginning of the track. Could we head up onto the mountain using the track at the back of your house? We want to go up to the megalithic tomb. That’s no problem, but you might struggle a bit. Understatement of the year, but sure she’s only trying to help. The track is now completely overgrown, impassable. So what to do? Nothing else for it than to head straight up through the woods, scrambling at first, then a fence appears on the right and this helps us gain the open air above the treeline.

Up here it’s all heather and bracken, our disappointing track probably a remnant from the old turf-cutting days. It’s a wilderness now, vague deer-trodden paths tempting us further and higher. We spy an old house – someone lived up here once, the track’s purpose finally revealed – imaginings of a desperate existence. There’s still a ways to go but you can feel it now.

We’ve been skirting the west side of the mountain for a while now when our objective appears, 250 metres ahead. The peat is deep here, treacherous holes hidden under pretty heather. The tomb is on more stable ground, the grey limestone of which it is made appearing like a scab on the skin of the deep brown and green environment. Our pace quickens.

There’s a large stone-wall enclosure north of the monument. Parts of its southern wall incorporate the megalithic tomb. The grave is a shattered mess, barely recognisable due to the material used in its construction being the same limestone pavement on which it lies. It looks like the tomb itself was prised up out of the ground with only a cursory plan. Looks can be deceptive. A north/south wall cuts through the cairn at the western end of what I thought was the complete tomb but as it turns out is just the eastern tomb of a dual court tomb. Over the wall, hidden in the heather, is another gallery, one I discovered back at home after the event. I’ve made this error too often lately.

Of the remains that we did see, the most prominently visible feature was the eastern court and the first two chambers of the eastern gallery. The court is now embedded in the peat, the tops of its stones peeping up and out to a max of about 30 cms. It’s wild up here and as we moped about, a handsome, brazen red fox headed south over the prow of the ridge about 50 metres away, aware of our presence but confident enough to take its time.

We’d started at the 170 contour and ended up at the 290, a paltry gain of around 120 metres, but it was a testing trek. A kilometre north of west of here is another court tomb in Shasgar – it would be a brave soul that would attempt both of these from the direction we took, or any direction for that matter.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
30th September 2021ce

Comments (2)

That sounds hard going but also fun. Nice photos of the site too. thelonious Posted by thelonious
1st October 2021ce
It was fun, and adventurous. Thanks. ryaner Posted by ryaner
2nd October 2021ce
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