CARROWNLISHEEN WEDGE TOMB

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The Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb on Inis Meain (Inishmaan) Island in County Galway is a remarkable megalithic monument that dates back to the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, around 4000 BC. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved wedge tombs in Ireland, and it has a fascinating history and mythology associated with it.

A wedge tomb is a type of stone chamber that was built by the prehistoric people of Ireland and Britain between 4000 and 2500 BC. They are called wedge tombs because they have a wedge-shaped plan, with the chamber being wider and higher at the entrance and narrowing towards the back. They are usually covered by a large capstone and surrounded by a cairn of stones. Wedge tombs are mostly found in the west and south of Ireland, where they are the most common type of megalithic monument.

Wedge tombs were probably used as collective burial places for the local communities. They may have also served as places of ritual and ceremony, where people could honour their ancestors and communicate with the spirit world. Some wedge tombs have evidence of cremation, offerings, and carvings on the stones. Wedge tombs are often associated with legends and folklore, such as fairy tales, curses, and love stories.

The Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb is located on the eastern lowlands of Inis Meain, the middle island of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. It is situated on a flat limestone pavement, overlooking the sea and the mainland. It is about 3.5 meters long and 2 meters wide, and it consists of a single chamber delimited by large vertical slabs of stone. The chamber is covered by a massive capstone that weighs about 10 tons. There are two rows of smaller stones on either side of the chamber, forming an outer wall. There is also a standing stone at the western end of the tomb, which may have been part of the original entrance.

The Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb was first recorded by antiquarians in the 19th century, who noted its good condition and impressive size. It was excavated in 1934 by R.A.S. Macalister, who found some fragments of pottery and human bones inside the chamber. He also noted that the tomb had been disturbed by treasure hunters in the past, who had dug a hole under the capstone. The tomb was designated as a National Monument in 1937, and it is now protected by law.

The Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb is also known locally as “Leaba Dhiarmada agus Ghrainne” or “The Bed of Diarmuid and Gráinne”. This is a reference to a famous legend from Irish mythology, which tells the story of a young couple who eloped and fled from the wrath of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, the leader of the Fianna warriors. Diarmuid and Gráinne travelled around Ireland, hiding in various places, including wedge tombs. According to some versions of the story, they spent their last night together at the Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb, before Diarmuid was killed by a boar sent by Fionn.

The Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb is accessible by foot or by bike from the main village of Inis Meain. There is no admission fee or opening hours for visiting the tomb, but visitors are advised to respect the site and its surroundings.

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53.087306, -9.581043

Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb

GALLERY

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