Cairns Dolmens Standing Stones

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The etymology of 'Dol-men' originates from the two Breton words meaning 'Stone - table'.
Dolmen are one of the most common megalithic structures around the world, and even though numerous were destroyed during the 'Christianisation' of Europe etc, many 1000's still survive . Some of the greatest densities of Dolmen est  30,000 dolmen are in Korea  , amounting to 40-50% of the worlds total.

What is a Dolmen ?

A Dolmen, also known as a Portal Tomb, portal grave or quoit, is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually made up from  2  or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal Capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic Period (4000 to 3000 BC). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a Barrow. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact.Dolmens are known by many different names: Cromleachs, Giants Graves, Leabas, Diarmuid and Grainne's Beds, and stone tables.

The Structure of a Dolmen

Dolmens generally have an entrance feature, known as the 'portal',  often closed by a blocking stone. The most chararteristic feature is a massive roof stone or slab, usually weighing many tons and inclined at an angle with the highest part over the entrance.

Legananny Dolmen

Legananny Dolmen is a Megalithic Dolmen or Cromlech nine miles southeast of Banbridge and three miles north of Castlewellan, both in  It is on the slopes of Slieve Croob near the village of Leitrim

Image courtesy The Dreaded Lurgi

Annadorn Dolmen

The dolmen has a large, low, slightly displaced capstone about 65 cm thick covering a rectangular chamber and supported by three stones about 60 cm high. An account of 1802 suggests that it was formerly set beneath a large rectangular cairn 60 ft in diameter and approached by a lintelled passage, so it could be the remains of a passage grave. Another possible explanation could be that the supporting stones were originally upright supporting the capstone, representing a more typical tripod dolmen.  The capstone has many small solution pits on the upper surface, two of which appear to have been enlarged.The 1802 account also says the chamber under the capstone contained ashes and a number of bones

Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Craigs Dolmen 2000 BC nr Rasharkin Co Antrim

Craigs Dolmen – big capstone on seven upright stones – is close to a minor road 3 miles north of Rasharkin. The Broadstone is a cairn situated northeast of the dolmen and is less accessible.

It features a big capstone on seven upright stones and is wrongly assumed to be a dolmen, actually being a Passage tomb.  The capstone was shattered in 1976 by lightning. It was repaired in 1985 and excavation at the time showed that the chamber was the remains of a passage tomb. It was probably built before 2000 BC, but re-used for burial in the Bronze Age

The large capstone over the entrance and the first chamber of this 3-chambered tomb was re-erected using an upright stone at the rear which probably was not an original feature. The almost semicircular forecourt faces south-east. The Broad Stone was only a popular place for meetings and assemblies

Image Courtesy Of Giles M Hudson 2009

Ballylumford Dolmen The dolmenconsists of four upright stones, with a heavy capstone and a fallenstone within the structure. This may have been put there to block the entrance to the tomb. The dolmen is in the front garden of a house. Artifacts have been recovered from under the dolmen by archaeologists and it would appear to have stood over a burial chamber from ancient times. It is situated on the B90 road between Mill Bay and BallylumfordA  plaque at the site describes the dolmen as a single chambered grave erected about 2000-1600 BC.The dolmen also known locally as the "Druids Altar"

Image Courtesy of  Don McCluney

Creggandevesky  Court Tomb - County Tyrone 3500 BC
Court Tombs are almost always aligned north to south. An  impressive court tomb was a peat- covered, largely featureless mound and was threatened with removal in an agricultural reclamation scheme. When excavated between 1979 and 1982, it proved to be in an almost perfect state of preservation. A semi-circular forecourt leads to three burial chambers. Cremated bone representing the remains of at least 21 people, flint implements and Neolithic pottery were found during the excavation, some of the material in the court area. Radiocarbon determinations suggest a date of about 3500BC, but there were also signs of later, Bronze Age, activity in the court and at the back of the cairn. Directions: Situated near Lough Millar about 2 miles south of An Creagan on The Omagh – Cookstown Road.

Kenneth Allen

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