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Loughcrew Cairns

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The Loughcrew passage tombs, also known as Slieve na Calliagh, meaning Hill of the Witch, are situated South East of Oldcastle, Co Meath. There are over 30 mounds and cairns, mostly on the two main hills, Carnbane East and Carnbane West. The Cairns are identified with letters, Cairn T pictured below, is the largest on Carnbane East approximately 120 ft in diameter, this cairn was covered in white quartz the same as used at Newgrange. Cairn T also has the Irish cruciform layout with a large central chamber and side chambers, also similar to the mounds at the Boyne Valley complex there are many inscribed stones.

The tombs were built around 3200 BC. The primary purpose of these passage mounds is to measure time. Cairn T is aligned with the Spring and autumnal Equinox, The image above shows L1 the first of the inscribed stones inside Cairn T, and the first stone the rising equinox sun illuminates as it enters the passage. Pictured below is the wonderfully inscribed backstone of Cairn T, stone 14. The passage of cairn T is constructed in a such a way that the suns rays forms a narrow shaft of light that highlights the rock art on the backstone...
 
During the time of spring equinox, 21st March, this rectangle of light highlights the solar symbol on the top left of the backstone slowly descending to the solar symbol at the bottom of the stone as the sun rises. This Cairn also indicates the Autumnal Equinox 22/23 September. There are many more examples of rock art in cairn T. To view more rock art click here. The image shown below is Cairn S taken from the top of Cairn T, the stones in the foreground are the cairn material of T. The passage and chamber of this mound are quite small. This passage is aligned to indicate the cross quarter days on 6 May and the 8 August. There were eighteen orthostats and three sill stones making up the passage of Cairn S.

More in this category: « Monasterboice Hill Of Tara »

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