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


County Armagh


Sites/Groups in this region:

6 posts
Aghmakane Portal Tomb
27 posts
Annaghmare Court Tomb
4 posts
Aughnagurgan Wedge Tomb
9 posts
Aughnagurgan Portal Tomb
2 posts
The Ballard Longstone Standing Stone / Menhir
24 posts
Ballykeel Portal Tomb
15 posts
Ballymacdermot Court Tomb
1 post
Clonlum Court Tomb
5 posts
Clonlum South Portal Tomb
2 sites
7 posts
The Dorsey Entrenchment Enclosure
19 posts
1 site
Emain Macha Henge
3 posts
Eshwary Court Tomb
Kilnasaggart Christianised Site
5 posts
Latbirget Chambered Tomb
The Long Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
3 sites
Slieve Gullion
4 posts
Tullynavall Standing Stone / Menhir
5 posts
Tullyvallan (Tipping) West Standing Stone / Menhir
Vicars Carn Cairn(s)

Latest posts for County Armagh

Showing 1-10 of 206 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Annaghmare (Court Tomb) — Fieldnotes

This was my fourth visit to Annaghmare court tomb. It really is a stunner and has so much going for it – ample parking space, a nice short walk through a pine plantation, it’s regularly tended to, I’ve never met anyone else here on my four trips and it’s a superb example of this type of tomb with most of its structure still in situ except for its roofstones and some of the covering cairn. Some might balk at its location in so-called bandit country, but as any local will tell you, the bandits left a while ago and to paraphrase the great Elvis, “and I would rather [not] be anywhere else but here today.”

So you pull into the driveway about a quarter of a kilometre south-west of the site and head off up the track. It really is nowheresville but not as isolated as it feels and the modernish pine plantation is entirely inoffensive. And then the tomb emerges at the bottom of the track, perched on its little knoll behind a gate, its surrounding lawn recently mowed and the more violent vegetation trimmed back, more of which anon.

The tomb is built on the contours and the slope of the hillock. The ground rises by close to 2 metres from the bottom of the of the last stone of the arm of the western horn of the court to the bottom of the western jambstone/portal marking the entrance into the three-chambered gallery. This gallery, seven metres long, lines the top ridge of the hillock. Its construction and segmentation are superb, always imperfect in that neolithic groove, but joyfully solid and skilfully finished. The ground of the two subsidiary chambers at the back of the cairn is maybe a metre and a half below the ground of the main gallery and offers a proto-symmetry. The cairn spills satisfactorily away from the sides of the gallery to both the east and west, but more so the east.

The remains of the cairn, for it must have been higher to cover the missing roofstones, is now being colonised by various plants. This adds to the ambience of the whole place, but may be not sustainable when the roots of pines and ash start to disturb the structure. And yet you’d miss the Rose Bay Willow Herb and various wildflowers – with a bit of sun, this burial place is a sleepy backwater, buzzing with life and vibrant with energy. This last visit was the longest yet, my companion this time happy to lie in the court and drink it all in while I did my usual clambering and photographing.

I focussed a bit on the subsidiary chambers at the back of the tomb this time. On their own, either of these two constructions would merit a visit. Attached to the back, northern end of the cairn, in what the excavation report says were later additions, they are a bonus. The flair of the orthostat/dry-walling combination witnessed in the court and the main chamber continues in the northern side of the western chamber. The southern wall of the eastern chamber is thought to borrow and incorporate the stones of the kerb of the rear of the main tomb/cairn before it was extended. Given that court tombs are said to be the earliest in the Irish series, this monument shows remarkable skill and ingenuity. The back-to-back backstones of the subsidiaries again speak of a symmetry.

The excavation was conducted in 1963 and 1964 before the trees were planted and the report speaks of extensive views almost all around, with the passage grave on Gullion visible from here. Alas not now - views are completely blocked by the pines, but with a respectable amount of breathing space for the tomb. This obscuring and hiding just adds to the intimacy of Annaghmare – not having seen it any other way I find it hard to imagine what it would be like opened up.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
6th September 2020ce

Annaghmare (Court Tomb) — Links

THE BLACK CASTLE, ANNAGHMARE CAIRN at the Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record

157 page PDF with excavation report, notes, pre-renovation photos etc.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
4th September 2020ce

Aughnagurgan (Portal Tomb) — Fieldnotes

This is the tomb marked on the OS map. It’s in the second field in from the road and would have been quite a corker, were it still standing. I found it hard to interpret. Of the five remaining stones only two remain upright. These look like a portal at the north-east and a low sidetone. The collapsing stone at the south-west looks like the second portal but is too far away from the upright one to make a tomb entrance, and the intervening stone looks way out of place to have been a doorstone.

Having said all that, it would be hard to say that this is not a portal tomb. The large capstone and the positioning of the tomb beside a vigorous stream would lead one to that conclusion. The capstone has a natural mini-bullaun at its eastern end. The position of the tomb on a steepish slope is a bit strange, but the views to the west and south are impressive. Mullyash mountain is two kilometres to the south. The views to the east are blocked by the slope of the hill.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
2nd September 2020ce

Annaghmare (Court Tomb) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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1st September 2020ce

Aughnagurgan (Wedge Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Visible from the road, not marked on the OS map, this obvious megalithic tomb defies classification. It was a bonus to find it – we actually thought it was the tomb that is marked on the OS map, but no, it’s a separate, unclassified megalithic tomb in the same townland.

The Northern Ireland Sites & Monuments Record has this to say: “6 large-ish stones remain in situ & there are several smaller stones which may be in their original positions. 3 other large stones lie within the area of the site but seem to be displaced. The stones in situ seem to form an enclosure or kerb defining an area 2.75m NW-SE x 4m NE-SW, raised 0.4m above the surrounding ground. 2 large stones 1m apart & 1.04m high mark the SW end. The other stones decrease in height to NE end which is marked by a single stone 0.15m high.”

Reading further, there is mention of carved stones at the site, none of which are visible now. Initially I said wedge tomb, but those carvings say passage tomb, and it could also fit as a court tomb. I was surprised at how close to the road the tomb was. The map shows it quite a distance away from the road so I was puzzled and unconvinced. Then we spied the obvious tomb in the next field to the south.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
1st September 2020ce

Tullyvallan (Tipping) West (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

North of Cullyhanna in an area called Cooey’s Hill, is this small standing stone. It’s in a roadside field and is leaning (tipping?) to the south. It’s nearly a metre and a half tall and there’s not much more to say about it except that when I asked permission to visit it from the neighbouring house, the man said that it wasn’t his field but was very curious as to how I knew the stone was there. I just said it’s on the map and left it at that before leaping the fence and firing off a few quick shots with my camera-phone. ryaner Posted by ryaner
1st September 2020ce
Edited 2nd September 2020ce
Showing 1-10 of 206 posts. Most recent first | Next 10