This portal tomb has the wow factor! For the sheer enormity of the capstone and the location. It is situated at the top of a little glade-like field and below it are the moss covered remains of an old cottage. These photos were taken on a damp grey day but the banks of primroses added a splash of colour and the atmosphere was enhanced further by the inquisitive baby lambs in the adjoining field and by a stoat which went back and forth across the glade, carrying it’s young (5 in total) from one nest to another.
The capstone, which is estimated to weigh about 50 tons, has slipped to the side, revealing the chamber underneath. When it was excavated around 1834 cremated bones and a flint arrowhead were found.
A small standing stone by the front of the tomb may be all that remains of a forecourt.
The dolmen is also known as Pat Kearney’s Big Stone and the information board has a 19th century photograph on it of a thatched cottage and a man sitting beside the dolmen – possibly Pat Kearney himself?
Located off the B8 between Hilltown and Castlewellan in Co. Down. It isn’t signposted from the B8 but once you get onto the right country lane it is well signposted and has a small parking area and information board beside it.
As a bit of a diversion from the prehistoric, the Bronte Homeland Trail is worth a mention here. It is about 5 miles away, north of Rathfriland and starts at the Interpretation Centre at Drumballyroney Schoolhouse and Church.
Patrick Bronte, father of the famous sisters, was born into a poor farming family in this area. He was the eldest of 10 children and taught at Drumballyroney School for 4 years before going to Cambridge to read theology. Adjacent to the school is the Anglican church where Patrick returned to preach his first sermon after graduating.
Charlotte’s husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, had a similar background to Patrick, coming from a farming family of 10 children in County Antrim.
There aren’t any prehistoric monuments on the trail but it is worth driving it for the Bronte connections and the views across the countryside to the Mournes.