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



Court Tomb

<b>Ballymacdermot</b>Posted by ryanerImage © ryaner
OS Ref (GB):   J065239 / Sheet: 29
Latitude:54° 9' 10.69" N
Longitude:   6° 22' 10.97" W

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Another roadside Armagh tomb. Been here three times before and never written about it. Don't know why – what an absolute corker of a court tomb and what a location. I was heading back home from a mate's gaf in Castlewellan and was on a recce for the cairn on top of Camlough mountain and had to stop by.

It's sits there on the southern flank of Camlough, part of the broader caldera that is the ring of Gullion. There are three parking spaces on the road at the front of the tomb but I guess you could hike here from Newry, about 3 kilometres away as the crow flies, a tad more than that up the winding road.

The tomb was excavated in 1962 and restored after excavation (I've posted a link to a pdf of the excavation report – careful, it's 80 megs). Like a lot of the tombs in state care in the north it has its own enclosure. Unlike at other places this is unobtrusive, the result of the tomb being on a hillock and the fence being sunken away from the sightline.

The construction is fantastic. The gallery sits in some of in its cairn, the outside of the sidestones hidden. On the west side of the second chamber the first course of corbelling is still in situ. The jambstones separating this second from the rear chamber are wonderful, if a little tight for my Dad bod.

The court faces north up the hill so the views here are restricted. Not so to the south and west – the large mass of Gullion itself lies to the south-west. South-east are the Cooleys. Directly east are the Mournes with Donard about 35kms thence. The monument is popular but has never been crowded the times I've been there – you could probably have the tomb to yourself if you hung around as most visitors that I've met only give it a cursory once over before moving on.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
7th June 2021ce
Edited 8th June 2021ce


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George Paterson recorded the following story about the tomb.
Sur' he saw no hurt in the breakin of it. But he never lived till finish it. For hundreds of years it has been there - maybe indeed since the beginning of time. I always remember it. Sure, it was there that I saw the first wee people.

From the Gap of the North by Noreen Cunningham & Pat Mcginn....
stubob Posted by stubob
4th October 2010ce


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In 1962 after excavation the monument was repaired, since the American Army on tank manoeuvres, during the Second World War, threw down some of the facade stones and broke them. stubob Posted by stubob
4th October 2010ce


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Excavation report and Notes for Ballymacdermot court tomb

80 meg PDF with the comprehensive excavation report and additional notes.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
7th June 2021ce