Broomfields : Portal Tomb

Grid RefS 923 984
Longitude6° 37' 26.87" W
Latitude53° 1' 42.07" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDonard (1.1 Km)
OS Sheet56
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 23rd September 2001

This is nothing more than a mound in a field for all I know. It was not possible to actually get up close to it as it is situated in somebody's back garden and I was there early on a Sunday morning; too early to knock on doors.

The size is average and it is covered with heather. I can say no more.

Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image


Sunday, 12th May 2002

At last I managed to see the right thing this time. Thanks to a little help from a fellow enthusiast, Jim, I was able to get it right.

150m up a farm track this ruined portal tomb is a sad and sorry sight. Two of the chamber walls still stand upright with a third leaning inwards. One of the upright wall slabs is incorporated into the field boundary. The capstone , which shows limited signs of weathering grooves, has slipped and lies in front of the chamber, this is because someone has stolen both portal stones .

The style would have been similar to that at Onagh (County Wicklow), with a tall square box chamber and single capstone.

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)).

A compartment in a tomb in which burials were placed. In court tombs and wedge tombs a chamber is a sub-division of the burial gallery. Portal tombs have single chambers and passage tombs can have anything from one to five chambers, although usually passage tombs are considered to have a main chamber with extra subsidary chambers.

The large rock used to form the roof of a portal tomb or kist.

Portal stones are a pair of upright stones that form the 'entrance' to a portal tomb. They are usually well matched, being of even dimensions. As well as forming this doorway they also act as the front support for the capstone and are usually taller than the stones that form the chamber.

Often there is a door stone in between them blocking off access to the chamber within.

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Like this monument

Marked Sites


Follow the N81 from Dublin and take the Donard turn off. Just as the road crowns the small hill there is a farm track to the left. The tomb can be seen in the far corner of the field next to this track.


For the time being ignore everything I've written above. I have been informed that I did not infact see this tomb. It is actually a collapsed dolmen down a nearby lane. I will be re-visiting it again in the near future. Thanks to Jim Dempsey for the info.

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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