'The Great Heath' : Barrow Cemetery

Grid RefN 522 009
Longitude7° 13' 17.02" W
Latitude53° 3' 22.43" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownPortlaoise (6 Km)
OS Sheet55
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192

This site has subsites

Greatheath - Ring FortGreatheath I - Barrow
Greatheath II - BarrowGreatheath III - Barrow
Greatheath IV - BarrowGreatheath V - Barrow
Greatheath VI - BarrowGreatheath VII - Barrow
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 11th April 2010

The Great Heath lies just to the southeast of Portlaois and is easily accessible by road. One of the barrows and one of the ringforts is located at the roadside. The other monuments require a walk around some uneven ground and some hunting down. Some of the sites form features of the golf course that takes up a large proportion of the Heath, so caution should be used when walking around here - I was nearly hit by a stray golfball while 30m off the course.

Aerial photographs of the area show large swathes of it covered in gorse. At the time of this trip a lot, but by no means all of it had been cleared, especially down the west side, between barrows I & III. The state of preservation varies a lot. Some barrows are in good condition, while others have been damaged quite badly. For example, there are supposed to be two barrows at the location of barrow II, but I couldn't be sure that I could see the second one. There is a barrow that overlooks the small roadside lake that was impossible to reach due to thick gorse bushes. There are two other barrows I didn't visit - one is in a back garden and the other is behind a high fence overlooking the new main road to the north of the Heath. However, I think the latter is reachable.

As well as the gorse clearance mentioned above some of the barrows had recently had the gorse covering them burnt off. This was isolated to the barrows, so it seemed like a deliberate attempt to clear them. Perhaps shortly they will be cleared off completely, so I think I'll pop back here in a few months to see if anything has happened.

I found it easier to park opposite the school just west of the Heath and walk from there.

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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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