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


Wedge Tomb


From the signpost that is used for shotgun target practice all the way to the monument is supposed to be 700 yards, but there’s two additional provisos: follow the posts (many of which are now fallen) and wear good boots. The tomb is on a prominence and the whole of the approach, except for the first hundred yards or so, is boggy. This was the last site of a hectic day, begun at Dun Ruadh, a cairn with a stone circle at its centre, and ending here at Clogherny, a wedge tomb surrounded by a stone circle.

Clogherny, or Meenerrigal, is wild: those 700 yards could be 700 miles. There’s nothing up here but the views, and the tomb, once you get here – no one, no sheep, maybe a hare or two or a deer now and then, and two hare-brained wanderers. This is the real deal. There’s a bit of a track that heads south-west from the signpost where we left the car but it soon runs out as it bends around to the west. There are still some odd posts off in the distance but following them means traversing the bog. There’s no other option.

The last rise before reaching the plateau that contains the monument is a slight slog and then the ground partially dries out (but I’m here in late summer so…). On first sighting it’s immediately apparent that the tomb builders didn’t pick the highest ground around – there’s a couple of higher knolls 300 metres to the south-west. The tomb is not quite aligned onto them, but the place is magnificent, oozing deliberation and reverence.

Anthony Weir says: “the whole monument seems to combine the practices of court tomb, wedge tomb and stone circle building.” Estyn Evans says more or less the same. Davies, the excavator in 1937, says that given its peculiarities “… the monument was conceived as two-chambered, though in so degenerate a form that it is difficult to describe it as anything but a megalithic cist.” A simpler analysis might conclude ‘a classic wedge tomb with a large, uncovered ante-chamber’, surrounded by a stone circle.

It’s thought that the tomb had been messed about with well before being rediscovered by the removal of the peat and possibly happened before the beginning of the growth of the bog, so presumably in the bronze age. The southern, front end is fascinating, with that large ante-chamber and the jambstones looking very cist-like, yet, was it ever covered? And if it had been covered, could it have been the circle builders, presumably later on, that uncovered it?

The addition of the circle, paved with cobbles between the orthostats (not now visible due to plant growth) adds to the dreamlike quality of the site. I couldn’t help but notice the similar ‘feel’ that the place had to that at Dún Ruadh. Maybe I’m getting older and mellower. The western end of the Sperrins with Mullaghcarbatagh and Mullaghclogher three kilometres to the east, dominate the skyline there, but scarcely impact the place. The two rocky knolls to the south are more viable as loci.

The now mud-filled chamber is low and squat. The longer of the two eastern sidestones is falling outwards. Davies says that one western sidestone had fallen inwards and that it had to be reset. The roofstone seems relatively stable, resting on at least four of the stones, including the backstone. It’s almost square except in the north-eastern corner which has a curve taken out of it, almost certainly deliberately. This reminded me of the notch-like feature found in many wedge-tomb backstones.

I could have stayed up here forever. The magic of the circle, even now in its overgrown state, surrounding quite a fantastic tomb and cairn, stay long in the memory. It’s the type of place that empties the spirit of anxieties, lush with wildflowers in early September, the sphagnum moss in abeyance for a short while. Sign-posted, Clogherny Meenerrigal is a must-see site, but do take note of the advice.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
29th December 2021ce

Comments (2)

Interesting read, thank you. That's another site noted :-) drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
29th December 2021ce
Glad you enjoyed it Drew. ryaner Posted by ryaner
29th December 2021ce
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