'Haroldstown' : Portal Tomb

TownlandNr Haroldstown Waste Center
CountyCarlow
Grid RefS 901 779
GPSS 90069 77933 (6m)
Longitude6° 39' 47.01" W
Latitude52° 50' 41.47" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownTullow (6.9 Km)
OS Sheet61
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 26th August 2001

We found this one by chance, when my daughter spotted a sign pointing back down the road the way I had just come. I quickly turned the car around and went searching.

As we rounded the bend in the road, just as it crosses a river, the portal tomb stood proud in the center of the field, looking quite spectacular. It is only closer inspection (involving a quick jump over the wall) that lets you see that it has collapsed slightly at the far end so that one of the two capstones lies horizontal.

Despite this, this is still a beautiful tomb, with part of the cairn still visible. It's just a shame that it's so close to the road.

Portal tombs are what most people wrongly refer to as dolmens. They are, to me at least, the most strikingly designed of the megalithic tombs. They are called portal tombs because they have two large upright stones, usually very well matched, in front of the chamber that seem to form a doorway.

Resting upon the portal stones and the chamber a large capstone rests (sometimes there are two capstones - see Knockeen (County Waterford)), usually at an angle of around 22 degrees from the horizontal. Although these were originally incorporated into one end of a long cairn there are none left in this state today, although traces of the cairn can sometimes be seen upon the ground. The portal stones can be up to 3.5m tall, which combined with a thick capstone can produce an imposing monument over 5m tall. Capstones can reach in excess of 70 tonnes, with that of Browne's Hill (County Carlow) being estimated at over 120 tonnes.


Often betwen the portal stones there is a door slab, blocking the width of the entrance, but not always the full height. Door slabs are either half height, three quarter height or full height, describing the amount of the portal that they obstruct. All portal tombs would have had door slab, but this has often been removed to facilitate entry into the chamber.

Quite rarely the portal stones are the same height as the chamber and the characteristic slope of the capstone is created by the profile of the capstone (see Glendruid (County Dublin)).

Boulder burials are very simple, yet striking monuments. As the name suggest they are simply burials beneath a large boulder. The burials contained within are mainly single and set in a small kist like chamber made from smaller stones (see Reanacaheragh (County Cork).

Boulder burials can be found on their own or within or around stone circles. The boulders often bear cup marks and were often picked for their curiously attractive shape or rock patterns.

A cairn is a large pile of stones, quite often (but not always) containing a burial. Sometimes they have a kerb around the base.

Most cairns are hemi-spherical (like half a football), but the piles of stones used to cover wedge tombs, court tombs and portal tombs are also called cairns. When associated with these types of monument they are not always round, but sometimes rectangular or trapezoidal.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Sunday, 14th April 2002

Just a quick stop by to show this wonderful portal tomb to my friends. Its riverside location on a quiet Sunday is great. Just the river bubbling past and very few cars whizzing by.

Portal tombs are what most people wrongly refer to as dolmens. They are, to me at least, the most strikingly designed of the megalithic tombs. They are called portal tombs because they have two large upright stones, usually very well matched, in front of the chamber that seem to form a doorway.

Resting upon the portal stones and the chamber a large capstone rests (sometimes there are two capstones - see Knockeen (County Waterford)), usually at an angle of around 22 degrees from the horizontal. Although these were originally incorporated into one end of a long cairn there are none left in this state today, although traces of the cairn can sometimes be seen upon the ground. The portal stones can be up to 3.5m tall, which combined with a thick capstone can produce an imposing monument over 5m tall. Capstones can reach in excess of 70 tonnes, with that of Browne's Hill (County Carlow) being estimated at over 120 tonnes.


Often betwen the portal stones there is a door slab, blocking the width of the entrance, but not always the full height. Door slabs are either half height, three quarter height or full height, describing the amount of the portal that they obstruct. All portal tombs would have had door slab, but this has often been removed to facilitate entry into the chamber.

Quite rarely the portal stones are the same height as the chamber and the characteristic slope of the capstone is created by the profile of the capstone (see Glendruid (County Dublin)).

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Friday, 27th September 2002

The first site of this tomb when approaching from Carlow and rounding the bend to cross the bridge always makes my heart leap.

Sunday, 20th February 2005

This was the purpose of today's little trip. I came here a while ago in the early morning and took some pictures and have wanted to return in the evening to take some more for a while now.

The sunset was beautiful and I managed to get some lovely shots, but I haven't quite got the right equipment to take these photographs properly. I appologise to the many motorists driving over the rather dangerous bridge that were distracted by my antics in the field - I tried not to trigger the falsh while anyone was in a direct line. During the few moments of calm while no cars were passing the site became very peaceful and almost royal (in a very odd way). The tomb stands out beatifully in the twilight. When I first arrived there was an almost ethereal quality to the air and the tomb seemed to hover just above the field or looked as if it was super-imposed there.

Sunday, 17th July 2005

I have to make a comment here about the state we found this site in. Someone had decided to 'honour' the tomb with a few candles. I collected six tealights and 2 normal candles from inside the chamber. Not only did they leave these candles littered about floor, but the idiot(s) had wedged candles between rocks - now set solid in a mass of hardened wax, so I couldn't remove these without causing more damage to the stones. The inside of one of the portal stones has purple wax dripped down it. Removing this wax and the couple of wedged in candle stubs will cause damage to the stones and the lichen growth.

Basically the actions of whoever did this have ruined the tomb for everyone to follow. If it was you who did this then YOU ARE A COMPLETE IDIOT!!!!!!!! For the sake of this country's heritage and everyone's enjoyment please stay away from these sites. Myself and other people do not want to have to tidy up your litter and we certainly don't want to have to look at lumps of melted candle on the stones.

I appologise to everyone else for that little tirade and sermon. I know that most people who visit these sites do show them respect. I always try to adhere to this little motto: Take only memories and leave only foot prints. Do that and you can't go wrong.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

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Sunday, 14th February 2010

It's been a while since I was here and it seemed like a good monument to pick to test out my new 3D camera. Elizabeth, my daughter, was with me on this trip and it was good photographic practice for her. A dark monument with open skies on a bright cloudy day is a challenge for anyone.

Like this monument

Marked Sites

3D Anaglyph Images

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Site Plans

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Directions

Take the N81 north from Tullow and turn right along the R727. After about 3 km you cross a bridge just after a sharp bend. This dolmen is in a field straight in front of you.

Miscellanea

"The Stone House" is close to Acaun Bridge, in the field on the east of the river, below the bridge. The stone which forms the roof of the cromlech is about 14 feet in length, and was said to have been thrown by a giant, the mark of whose hand is still to be seen on the under side.

From 'County Wicklow Archaeological Notes Around Kiltegan' by C Drury, in the Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society and Surrounding Districts (1905).

(taken from a post by Rhiannon on The Modern Antiquarian website.)

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Portal Tombs

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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