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

Kilclooney More

Portal Tomb


Of all prehistoric structures it is perhaps the portal tomb which is consistently the most aesthetically pleasing to the modern eye. Whether originally covered by a mound or not(?), the haunting, bare profile of a dolmen/cromlech is guaranteed to set the thought processes a' flowing.... there are squat, powerful ones (e.g. Lligwy), the overwhelmingly massive (e.g. Browne's Hill), the elegant and impossibly fragile (e.g. Pentre Ifan), the downright bonkers (Trethevy Quoit), the cute little ones (Chun Quoit, Maen-y-Bardd) and the classic 'Flintstones' form (Devil's Den). Quite where the Kilclooney More portal fits in to these categories, I don't know. To be honest I think it's in a category of its own. Really, it is that good.

Sure, I'd seen the pictures and this dolmen was the primary reason for the trip to Donegal - although the many court tombs had a little to do with it, I suppose. But little can prepare the visitor for the elegant form, the streamlined contours... and the sheer, well, sensuous femininity of this wonderful structure.

The visit starts in a less than inspiring manner as I park at the 'Dolmen Centre' (oh dear) beside an impossibly yellow church (double-plus oh dear). Hmm. Trying a bit too hard, me-thinks? Anyway, crossing a bridge beside the latter monstrosity, accompanied by a very annoying hound which wants me to play ball, a path leads onto open moorland, the dolmen eventually appearing upon the horizon. Tourists, with their trademark inane assertions, abound, doing little to dispel my distinctly 'underwhelmed' state of mind. 'This had better be good'... Needless to say it is. Very.

The capstone soars upon well proportioned orthostats as if seemingly made of balsa and liable to float away into space any second, the whole sculpture so incredibly well balanced it takes the breath away. Surely this capstone was always meant to be seen? Further inspection reveals a near 360 degree sweep of mountains upon the horizon and a smaller chamber - seemingly the real thing and not a folly - behind the main event. Hmm, were both after all covered by a single cairn? More questions than answers, a particularly knowledgeable American tourist then going on to torpedo another of my cherished stereotypes. Are you listening to me, boy?

I leave this wonderful site for the nearby ruined court tomb.....

.....thinking that, quite possibly, this is the finest dolmen in these Isles.
14th March 2010ce
Edited 15th March 2010ce

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