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Ossian's Grave

Court Tomb

<b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by ryanerImage © ryaner
Also known as:
  • Lubitavish

OS Ref (GB):   NW3833084838
Latitude:55° 5' 19.28" N
Longitude:   6° 6' 4.5" W

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<b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by tjj <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by tjj <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by tjj <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by caealun <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by caealun <b>Ossian's Grave</b>Posted by greywether


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Two kilometres north-west of Cushendall is Ossian’s Grave court tomb in Lubitavish townland. The track that leads up to the site crosses the Glenaan river. Ossian’s Grave is sited on the eastern end of Glenaan glen’s southern side. We parked at the house/B&B 200 metres up the track and knocked to ask for permission. No one in the house so we headed on up. The hill is quite steep but easy going, beginning to get overgrown in late summer.

The field with the tomb has its own kissing gate and there’s the memorial to John Hewitt just inside of this. Then you see the grave, 100 metres into the field, and it seems to be perfectly placed on the prow of a slight ridge coming down from the mountain of Tievebulliagh, with its axe factory under cliffs 200 metres higher up.

The remains are all quite low for a court tomb, but no less compelling for that. The court is shallow and seems more embracing as a consequence. The two-chambered gallery is bisected by a pair of matching jambs and is maybe 3 metres in overall length. The views north-east up through Glencorp and towards Cushendun were calling us with the promise of more megalithic adventures up in Ballyvennaght. Ossian’s Grave was a good place to start.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
18th September 2021ce

I must start this field note by acknowledging "Monu-mental About Prehistoric Antrim" by Tom Fourwinds
(ISBN: 9781845889210). The archaeology of Antrim seems is much harder to find than anywhere I've been before so this publication was invaluable.
Visited Monday 20/5/19:
A very good day, visited Glenariff in the Glens of Antrim in the morning.
The clouds cleared after lunch so headed for Cushendall in search of Ossian's Grave. We had identified it from the OS map where it is shown by name. No signposts but following the map we walked up a steep track where eventually we came to a small gate. Amazing views towards the strangely shaped Hill of Tievarah on the way up. The grave itself seemed to have been almost wilfully neglected and has fallen into disrepair. What is most stunning about this site is the views on clear day - especially towards the Hill of Tievarah.
tjj Posted by tjj
29th May 2019ce

My family and I visited this site in the summer of 2002ce. The path up from the main Ballymoney-Cushendall road is very steep, with a sharp right angled turn on a very narrow unpaved ascent bounded by hedges and fences, too destructive of the environment to negotiate by car. I'd recommend walking up after parking in front of the house directly off the road. It's easy to miss the sign coming out of Cushendall, so drive slowly the mile or so up into the hills from the village.

I've cannot confirm whether the Ulster poet John Hewitt is in fact buried beneath the commemorative cairn at his beloved vista. There was no "official" information posted at the site when we visited. Harbison (p. 40) calls the "grave" a "neolithic court-tomb with a forecourt of low stones facing south-eastwards and giving access to a two-chambered gallery placed in an ill-defined oval mound."

However, the views are magnificent, the (ca. 2000bce--Donnelly; 3000bce--Harbison) horned cairn handsome in its simple setting, and the quest rewarding, even if Ossian's legend occurred long after the site's actual establishment. The townland, Lubitavish, "loop of pleasure" nestles in Glenaan, one of Antrim's nine glens, on the Dall river.

South of this, Lurigethan, (Lurigeadan=Luragh Eadan, "brow of the long ridge,") the fabled site of giants, continues associations; Ossian's father, Finn MacCool, lived among the other Fianna in its cave, Lig-na-Fenia.


Maureen Donnelly. The Nine Glens. rev. ed. Coleraine & Ballycastle: Impact Printing, 2000.

Peter Harbison. Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1992.

Robert Sharpe & Charles McAlister. A Glimpse of Glenariffe. Glenariffe, Co Antrim: McAlister & Sharpe, 1997.
Posted by Fionnchu
2nd April 2004ce
Edited 2nd April 2004ce


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John Hewitt wrote a poem about this site. It was originally called "Oisin's Grave: the horned cairn at Lubitavish, Co Antrim," later in his collected works as "Ossian's Grave, Lubitavish, Co Antrim."
Ossian's Grave, Lubitavish, County Antrim

We stood and pondered on the stones
whose plan displays their pattern still;
the small blunt arc, and, sill by sill,
the pockets stripped of shards and bones.

The legend has it, Ossian lies
beneath this landmark on the hill,
asleep till Fionn and Oscar rise
to summon his old bardic skill
in hosting their last enterprise.

This, stricter scholarship denies,
declares this megalithic form
millennia older than his time -
if such lived ever, out of rime -
was shaped beneath Sardinian skies,
was coasted round the capes of Spain,
brought here through black Biscayan storm,
to keep men's hearts in mind of home
and its tall Sun God, wise and warm,
across the walls of toppling foam,
against this twilight and the rain.

I cannot tell; would ask no proof;
let either story stand for true,
as heart or head shall rule. Enough
that, our long meditation done,
as we paced down the broken lane
by the dark hillside's holly trees,
a great white horse with lifted knees
came stepping past us, and we knew
his rider was no tinker's son.
Sydney Bell, a local poet, wrote:
Ossian's Grave, Lubitavish

They say
It was here where Ossian died:
I wonder if bright-haired Niamh cried?
Whose lonely fingers piled the cairn
And heaped it high with maiden fern?

They say
That only the plovers know
The feet that track the drifted snow,
And the peeweets cry
Though they've never seen--
The name of one who loved Ossian.

I hope and I hope
That he found somewhere
His slender Niamh of the yellow hair
For theirs was a song too brief to scan
With a rickle of bones
And a blind blind man.
(note: blind is also the meaning of the River Dall, part of the name of the village nearby of Cushendall, "at the foot of the Dall"--water emerging unseen from the barren and dignified hillsides north of Glenaan.)


Maureen Donnelly. The Nine Glens. rev. ed. Coleraine & Ballycastle: Impact Printing, 2000. (for Bell poem.)

John Hewitt. Collected Poems. ed. Frank Ormsby. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1991.
Posted by Fionnchu
2nd April 2004ce
Edited 2nd April 2004ce


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GPS location given for this is way out, I dont have the correct coordinates, maybe somebody can help, in Cushendall yesterday didnt make the trip here due to time constraints :-( bogman Posted by bogman
21st June 2013ce