'Carnagat' : Court Tomb

TownlandBallywholan
CountyTyrone
Grid RefH 570 470
Longitude7° 7' 22.51" W
Latitude54° 22' 6.17" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownClogher (5.7 Km)
OS Sheets18, 28A
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
Hide map  (N.B. Google Maps & GPS readings are slightly out of sync - position is approximate)
Show inline map (by Google Maps)

Visit Notes

Sunday, 8th June 2003

First of all I would like to thank the local historical society for the work they have done at this wonderful double court tomb . The path from the road, across what would otherwise be a boggy field, is very nicley done. My only complaint is that the very informative notice board is too close to the tomb.

As you walk along this path from the road the orthostats are all hiden behing a massive bank of cairn material, which is over 2m high. Actually rounding the end of this cairn and seeing the tomb for the first time is quite special.

The structure is roughly northeast-southwest aligned with a double chambered gallery at each end. The north tomb (which is the first one that you see) has some very fine court stone and a great pair of door jambs - one of which has a deep cup mark or solution pit. There are also three shallow ones on it too. This northern court has 3 stones to the left and 3 stones standing to the right of the entrance. One of the stones to the left is almost 2m tall. The first chamber of the gallery at this end is 3m long and the second is 2.5m in length and features a nicely pointed backstone.

The south court is quite different from the north. It is made from smaller orthostats and has quite weak looking, thin entrance stones. 5 stones remain of the court to the left of the entrance and just 2 to the right. The gallery is divided in a similar manner to the north gallery, but the backstone is not pointed. There is a 1.5m gap between the two backstones.

Several roofstones lie along the sides of the galleries.

The cairn was excavated in the 1890s and very little was found. There were no burials and the only finds were an arrow head and wrist guard. These would be at least 1000 years younger than the tomb itself, leaving quite a few questions unanswered.

The name of this townland comes from a folkloric story that the tomb was once the home of a population of fairy cats. These cats had hooks in the end of their tails which they used to use to drag sheafs of wheat to the cairn for the other fairies. This was the most important mythical site in the region.

The views are not that impressive or suggestive. The tomb is located on a low rolling platform with just nondescript hills around it. However, it's a beautiful place to sit and paint, which is exactly what I tried to do.

Court tombs have several distinctive characteristics that allow easy identification when in fair condition. One key feature that is a great help, no matter what the condition, is that court tombs are nearly always aligned north to south. They were all originally covered by a cairn, but in most instances this is now missing, or at best only remain to a height of one or two metres. The easiest feature to identify (when intact) is obviously the court. The rest of the tomb is occupied by a long, divided, passage-like gallery.

Galleries:
Galleries of court tombs can usually be identified by their characteristic boat-shaped plan, i.e. the gallery, when viewed from above, is flat at the entrance and tapers to a point or narrow width at the rear. The gallery may be segmented into up to five chambers by jambs, the walls normally being made of large slabs. The roofs were created by laying large slabs across the gallery, either directly on to the tops of the wall slabs or resting on corbel stones. Two large stones, with smooth forward-facing faces, usually create the entrance and it is possible to identify a court tomb when only these stones remain. The gallery would have been covered by a cairn of stones, sometimes with a kerb.

Single Gallery Variations:
Most often called a 'Single Court Tombs, usually this style has a half-court, a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of stones in front of the gallery (see Ballymacdermot (County Armagh)). This is usually, but not always, symmetrical about the centre line of the gallery, although occasionally the centre line of the court forms a slight angle with the centre line of the gallery. The other option is a full-court formed a complete circle of stones (see Creevykeel (County Sligo)). These full-courts mainly have one entrance allowing access, which is usually opposite the entrance to the gallery.

Double Gallery Variations:
Double-gallery court tombs come in three styles, the last of which is very unusual. The first is where the chambers are built facing away from each other. These are usually referred to as ŽDouble Court TombsŪ (see Cohaw (County Cavan)). The galleries sometimes share the same rear stone, but more often there is some distance between them Ů ranging from one to ten metres. This style has a half-court at each end of the monument, one facing north and the other facing south. In this style both galleries would have been covered by the same cairn.

Tuning round the two tombs and placing the two galleries so that the entrances face each other, across a full court, creates another style, known as a Centre-Court Tomb. Access to this court is gained through entrances placed (usually) in the east and west sides of the court. Here there would have been two cairns, one at each end, but they would have been joined down the sides of the court by a low cairn.

The third and very uncommon form is where the two galleries are located side-by-side facing into a full court with an entrance opposite (e.g. Malin More).


Subsidiary Chambers:
Quite often you will find other chambers built into the cairn. In single-gallery tombs and double court tombs these are invariably located to the rear of the gallery. Centre court tombs often have them placed near to the entrances.

A barrow is essentially a mound of earth over one or more burials. They are more usually to be dated to the Bronze Age. There are many forms of barrow including ring, bowl, long and bell barrows.

Ring barrows are formed by digging a circular trench or fosse around a central burial, with no mound.

Bowl barrows are formed by heaping up soil over the burial(s) from a surrounding fosse, these often have an external bank too (see Ballyremon Commons (County Wicklow)).

Bell barows are simply round mounds with no fosse or external bank.

Long barrows are rare in Ireland and are more common in southwest England. Their shape is basically ovoid rather than round (see Ballynoe (County Down))

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

_____

Saturday, 4th June 2005

It was good to come back here, especially on a day when the midges weren't out in force biting me to death! It was also good to see that the site is still being well looked after and that there is no vandalism and rubbish etc. I do wonder, though, why there aren't any signs to the site from the main road. After going to all this effort to make the site accessible and to clean it up why not promote it a bit more? As someone once said, Folks don't go antwhere these days unless there's a sign!

Like this monument

Marked Sites

Site Plans

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image

<a href='/show/image/4435/carnagat.htm' class='redlink'>Permanent Link</a>_

Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Court 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.

Valid CSS Valid HTML
Page loaded from cache: (Generation time: December 11 2017 12:40:57.)
Top of page | Feedback | About this site
© Copyright Tom FourWinds 2001-2017