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Slieve Beagh

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery

<b>Slieve Beagh</b>Posted by ryanerImage © ryaner
Also known as:
  • Sliabh Breagh

Nearest Town:Slane (7km SE)
OS Ref (IE):   N933805 / Sheet: 36
Latitude:53° 45' 56.54" N
Longitude:   6° 35' 5.89" W

Added by FourWinds


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<b>Slieve Beagh</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Slieve Beagh</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Slieve Beagh</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Slieve Beagh</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Slieve Beagh</b>Posted by ryaner

Fieldnotes

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Slieve Beagh is a low, ridge-back hill in north Meath, close to the Louth border and north-west of the town of Slane. Indeed it can be seen from the top of the Hill of Slane, amongst a larger group of hills and aligned west-south-west, east-north-east. A road traverses the northern side of the hill in Rathbranchurch townland. Between that townland and neighbouring Creewood, in an area about 500 metres by 250 metres, is the Slieve Beagh barrow cemetery, mostly to the south of the road.

The updated record at archaeology.ie says there are 26 barrows here, along with 3 raths, 6 houses of indeterminate age (presumably bronze-age) and 2 hut sites, one of which was excavated in the 1960s and given a date from the neolithic.

I’ve been here twice before and on both those occasions was impressed by the views, especially from the road below the cemetery. It reminds me of Tara and the way the ground falls away to the west and seems to go on forever. There are also extensive views to the east but these are blocked in places by a large gorse hedge. The land on that side of the hill is cultivated whereas most of the barrows are hidden in the gorse in a sheep pasture.

The actual monuments are increasingly difficult to identify as more and more gorse takes over. Walking up the track from the gate, the first you see are two enormous, conjoined and flattened round barrows, their banks visible but their ditches are gradually filling. After that it’s more difficult to identify anything, except what seems to be a central, focal bowl barrow, over two metres in height. The graffiti-carved stone still sits atop this, but the carvings are weathering and the whole of the barrow might soon be inundated with gorse.

I like this place. Most of fertile Meath is under cultivation, but this hill stands out, wild and wind-swept. The mystery of the barrows drew me back and retains enough pull to make me want to return. Maybe some day the landowner might cut back the gorse, or it may catch fire, and reveal some more of monuments.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
25th May 2020ce
Edited 26th May 2020ce

There are ten red dots on Sheet 36 denoting this barrow cemetery. Three of them are beside the road with two on the road itself. The other five are in an arc aligned roughly south-west to north-east. To be honest I wasn't expecting to find much and I wasn't greatly disappointed. I did however locate the remains of about seven of the barrows. They're quite hard to make out and most of the mounds have been flattened, but a little scouring shows plenty of evidence of circular banks and interior fosses. The one mound that remains to any great height is the most northern one. It's about 2.5 metres high, roughly circular.

Slieve Breagh falls dramatically away to the north-west from this place and the views across Meath, Monaghan and Cavan and north into Armagh and beyond are spectacular. There are many peaks away on the distant horizon. A quite lonely and windswept place but worth the trip on this cloudy, windy and sunny Irish day.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
8th May 2007ce
Edited 25th May 2020ce

Miscellaneous

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Arch. Inventory of Co. Meath puts this in Rathbranchurch, the neighbouring townland, and lists 18 barrows in all. ryaner Posted by ryaner
8th May 2007ce