Queen Maeve's Cairn
Sliabh Dá Eán
27. Situated to the S.W. of 26 (dolmen-circle, or chambered cairn). "This
is a double circle, and one of the finest of the series. The stones of
the inner circle are small, and nearly covered by the clay. Those of the
outer one are of large size, averaging 6 feet in height, and 20 feet in
circumference. The diameter of the circle is 60 feet. The number of stones
in the circle is thirty-seven. The pillar-stones of the cromleac, sixteen
in number, remain; but the covering-stone or stones - for it is probable
there were more than one - have been destroyed." - P.
is a plan of this circle in Fergusson's "Rude Stone Monuments,"
but it is inaccurate. The "cromleac" of which Petrie speaks,
turned out, on examination by Col. Wood-Martin, to be a cruciform arrangement
of cists, or chambers, similar in ground-plan to - though ruder, apparently,
in structure than - that found in several cairns. This design which is
found in the cairns at Loughcrew in Meath, and at Achill in Mayo, and
Moytirra in Sligo, reached its consummation in New Grange. It is found
also at Dowth, and at Maes Howe in Orkney, and, with modifications, in
other cairns in Orkney, as well as in those of Caithness and Argyllshire.
The monument, however, which resembled most closely the Carrowmore example
now under consideration, was, in its pristine condition, "Wayland
Smith's Cave," in the County of Berkshire, a plan of the chambers
of which will be found in the Norwich volume of the "Congress of
Anthropology and Prehistorical Archaeology," 1868, p. 46. The idea
present to the mind of the builder of that monument must have been identical
with that which dictated the design of the Carrowmore one. The custom,
and presumably the people who erected then both, was clearly one and the
same, and the presence of the form in the apparently more ancient Carrowmore
group, forms a link between them in the chain of the megalithic series
which it is important to note. Cruciform chambers, as we shall see, are
not unknown to German Archaeologists.
Bergh's plan of Carrowmore 27.
Wood-Martin gives (from the pencil of Mr. James Graves) a sketch and ground
plan of the cist which formed the W. arm of the cruciform arrangement.
"It was lined around - nearly to the surface of the ground - with
narrow limestone slabs, and was flagged with a piece of calpy limestone,
underneath which lay the undisturbed till. It lnay be considered a typical
chamber." The covering-stone is wanting in this and all the other
cists, and I do not feel sure that the roof was not completed in each
case by overlapping thin flat stones. Had this been the case, however,
one would have thought they would have been found in the chamber, but
such a circumstance is not recorded.
the W. cist were found: -
(a) 1 lb. 1.5 oz. weight of calcined human bones and fragments of crania.
(b) 1 lb. weight of uncalcined bones of animals and birds.
(c) Four fragments of uncalcined animal bones, probably those of a small
(d) Seven back teeth (molars) and three front teeth (incisors) of an aged
(e) Seven back teeth and ten front teeth of an adult or adults.
(f) About forty fragments ofcockle shells.
(g) A fossil cast of a shell from the limestone.
the N. cist (which would represent the shaft of the cross, and the axis
of which lay rather N.W. and S.E. than N. and S.) were found: -
(a) A few fragments of calcined human bones.
(b) Animal bones and a tooth of an animal, uncalcined.
the E. cist were found: -
(a) A few fragments of calcined human bones.
(b) Fragments of uncalcined human bones; pare of a jaw, with molar; fragments
(c) Animal bones, molar tooth of ruminant, uncalcined.
(d) A few cockle and oyster shells.
(e) A hammer-stone (sandstone, weight 0.5 lb) with one of the ends showing
traces of abrasion; another of the same material; three fragments of quartz,
averaging about 0.25 lb. each; a very small piece of the same; and a quartz
spar, clear as crystal - a very fine specimen - weight 2 oz,
the central cist were found: -
(a) Calcined bones not exclusively human, fragments of crania, and two
(b) 1 lb, uncalcined human bones, and nine incisors, and seven human molars
of different individuals also animal bones and the tooth of a ruminant.
(c) Numerous fragments of cockle and oyster shells, and a periwinkle shell.
(d) A small piece of white quartz and a rose-coloured pebble.
(e) Two small fragments of a cinerary urn, one of them showing traces
of a pattern.
(f) Two pieces of worked bone, and palt of the acus of a bone pin.
the S. (or S.E) cist were found:-
(a) I lb. z oz. weight of calcined bones, and two human incisors.
(b) Numerous uncalcined bones; eight human molars; six incisors; eight
teeth of animals, five of them belonging to a dog; three fragments of
an animal's jaw, with molar; and a few other fragments of animal bones.
27 under excavation by the Swedish team. Photomontage.
(c) Twelve fragments of cockle shells and a fossil.
(d) A fractured hammer stone, apparently split by intense heat; and two
small, pieces of white quartz.
(e) Small fragments of a cinerary urn, red in colour, thin, hard, well-baked,
and highly ornamented. It seemed to have been subjected to great heat
on its interior surface.
(f) Three fragments of a ring, presenting much the appearance of ivory,
being hard and white, stated by Dr. Frazer to have been "cut with
vast labour from a nodule, or portion of white flint, and as it was hydro-metric,
it consisted originally of a form of hydrated quartz, or opal, which is
found in the trap districts of the north of Ireland." It is further
remarked that, " very often chalk flints are found around a fossil
such as a Belemnitp, as a nucleus. If the fossil had either fallen out
through natural agency, or had been extracted by these primitive ornament-makers,
the formation of a ring, such as this, would have been greatly facilitated."
A ring of lignite and another of glass are stated to have been found with
a skeleton at Dunadry, Co. Antrim, and a ring of shale in a cinerary urn
at Dundrum, Co. Down.
(g) A piece of carved bone with pattern decidedly archaic. It is either
walrus or whale bone.
(h) Fragments of the acus of a pin, and three pieces of a dagger-like
implement made of horn, or cetaceous bone, greatly calcined.
(i) An arrow-head formed of the split bone of a large mammal: the convex
and concave sides of the medial canal are still very observable.