Previously Suspected Alignment:  Summer Solstice Sun-rise
Site Type: Wedge Tomb
Irish Grid Ref: R8464760067
Location: Link to Bing Maps


This wedge tomb is described on as follows;

"This well-preserved tomb, excavated in 1959 (O'Kelly 1960), is sited just below the summit of a hillock which forms the south-western spur of Mauherslieve. A gallery, 7.2m long, is centrally placed in a cairn, 15m to 16m in diameter, surrounded by a kerb of inward-sloping slabs. Between the kerb and the gallery there is an incomplete circle of stones, c.11m in diameter. Inside this there is an irregular arc of large stones beyond the front half of the southern side of the gallery and another beyond the entire northern side. These formed the edge of an elaborate construction that enclosed the sides of the gallery. They link with a short, irregular double line of stones just in front of the gallery. A septal-stone divides the gallery into a short portico and a main chamber. The former, 2.15m long, narrows from 2.4m wide at the front to 2.1m at the septal-stone. Two sidestones form each of its sides and two low stones set end to end form a low sill at the front. There are incised lines, possibly anciently scored, on the inner face of the eastern orthostat at the northern side. Two pillar-like stones, one towards the front and the other towards the rear, stand on the main axis of the tomb and support the largest of three roof-slabs that partially roof the portico. A cist about 1m square is built against the southern side of the portico. The main chamber, 4.3m long and 1.25m wide at the septal-stone, lacks a backstone. Three sidestones form its S side, four the N side, and it is covered by four substantial roofstones. Pad-stones are interposed between some of the sidestones on the N side of the gallery and three such orthostats flank the S side. The excavation revealed a row of buttress-stones outside both lines of outer-walling. Twenty-one cremated burials were found at the site. Five were in the portico, one in the main chamber, twelve to the S of the tomb and three just outside the kerb at the SW. Among the few artifacts recovered at the site are some worked pieces of flint and chert, among them a plano-convex flint knife, and some pottery sherds which were associated with one of the burials. (De Valera and Ó Nualláin 1982, 84-6, No. 6)".

What is interesting is that like many other possibly aligned sites this wedge-tomb also has some rock-art associated with it. "Two cup marked stones lay at old ground level between the central revetment and the inner core to the south of the gallery. Several stones in the cairn base had pock-marked surfaces. Sharply incised markings on the orthostat on the north side of the portico are considered by the excavator to be ancient because they were traceable to old ground level." (Survey of Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Vol. 4. Counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick & Tipperary (1982) pg 86)"

The tomb is located on the slopes of the Mahurslieve or Mothers Mountain which itself has a possible passage tomb on the top of it. I visited the tomb for the Equinox sunrise and the Winter Solstice sunrise to try and identify if it was aligned to either of these. This was in the days before smart-phones and the Sunseeker app which now makes it very easy to figure out if a site is aligned. During one Winter Solstice observation I met some other people who said they had been at the tomb for the Summer Solstice sunrise and that the sun did indeed shine into the main chamber on this day. On the 22nd June 2015 I was able to confirm that this was so. See the link below for some of the photos.

Although the sun does shine into the tomb on the summer solstice sunrise, archaeological consensus suggests that Wedge Tombs "face" towards the west and the setting sun. Unfortunately this suggests that this summer solstice alignment is coincidental as the eastern end would normally have been closed following construction and cairn material has been noted on the eastern end of some wedge tombs where there is the remains of cairn material today. However in the defence of an alignment this particular tomb does have evidence of an "access" hole at the eastern end of the tomb. This is evident on a small number of wedge tombs and even if this end was closed off it may have been that the sun could have entered through this hole at an unknown date. 

Links to photographs;
Picture of the rock-art within the chamber on by Ken Williams
Link to facebook page showing the pictures from Summer Solstice sunrise 

Links for further information;
Further information on Tom Nelligans site