Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
Site 49, a fairly complete circle, has only one stone remaining from the chamber, top left. As with all these sites, there is a fantastic view of Knocknarea with Queen Maeve's Cairn on its summit.

Circle 49

Petrie counted thirty-two boulders in a circle measuring ten meters in diameter when he visited the monument in 1837. Twelve stones remain today, surrounding and enclosing a low platform or tertre. There is a smaller inner circle almost eight meters in diameter laid out on the old ground level. These monuments were always open and free standing. There is a tremendious view to the south and west from this platform.

One stone, possibly the backstone, remains of the chamber. Like Circle 48 a hundred meters to the east, there is no view Listoghil, the central monument at Carrowmore From Circle 49 the central monument is hidden by the low ridge that runs through the middle of Carrowmore.

Borlase's extensive notes on Wood-Martin's excavation are recorded below. Site 50 is completely destroyed.

Circle 49.
Circle 49 looking south across Ballisodare Bay and the true location of the First Battle of Moytura to the peak of Croghaun, where a small neolithic monument sits on the summit.

Circle 49

LXI. No. 49. Situated in the same field, about 80 paces to the W. of LX (dolmen-circle).

"This is a double circle with a ruined cromleac in the centre. The stones in the outer circle are considerably larger than those in the inner, and appear to have consisted of thirty-two, but some of them have been removed. The diameter of the circle is 38 feet. The stones of the inner circle are nearly covered with earth, as are also those of the tomb, which wants the covering-stone."

- Petrie.

"This is a small, double circle, situated on ground that was slightly raised above the surrounding level, and of which the stones of the outer are considerably later than those of the inner circle. Only one stone of the central chamber remains; part of the interment had been disturbed, as the remains were almost on the surface of the soil, but after excavating down to the floor of the cist, some of the flags near the headstone were raised, and under these an interment was discovered."

- Wood-Martin.

Circles 48 and 49 at Carrowmore.
Sites 48 and 49 looking west to Knocknarea.

In this tomb were three interments - one uncalcined, one calcined, and one underneath the pavement of the cist. This latter mode of disposition recalls to me a discovery of my own under a great tumulus upon the edge of the cliff at Trevelgue on the North coast of Cornwall. The dolmen in that case was flagged, as is usual in the Carrowmore examples, and underneath one of the paving-stones occupying an angle of the chamber I discovered a deposit of bones, principally those of a skull.

As they lay in a little depression which seemed to have been scratched out of the hard ground, the horrible thought occurred to me that a body had been buried alive together with the corpse of the person for whom the dolmen and cairn was erected. In this Cornish dolmen I found a beautifully polished and perforated stone hammer. The report on the discoveries in the cist of LXI is as follows: Firstly, those above the flagging: -

"Eighty-six fragments of human bones, without any appearance of the action of fire, all stained yellowish-brown by humus. This lot affords evidence of at least two individuals having been buried here, by the presence of two astragali (ankle bones) of the left foot. These bones, being of different sizes, may be those of a male and female. There was also evidence that one of the persons buried here was of great size and strength, from the massive and strongly developed portions of femur (thigh bone) which were amongst the fragments.

From the size of one of the bones of the hand (unciform right), it may be inferred that his hands and feet were in proportion - perhaps a chieftain and his wife. These bones must have been interred under a vast weight, as the clay was tightly jammed into the canal of the long bones...... There was a small bit of oyster shell; also fifteen hundred and fifty-five small fragments of greyish-white or ashen-coloured bones imperfectly calcined and impregnated almost to petrifaction with carbonate of lime, which rendered them unusually heavy."

At least thirty of these fragments show distinctly crack-like marks, transverse to the long axis of the bone, or arranged in a series of plane curves similar to those found on bones in another dolmen to be presently noticed.

Dolmen 48.
Dolmen 48.

Not far from the surface a button was found, which is figured by Colonel Wood-Martin, and which, on account of its peculiar form, calls for special attention. The material is said to be steatite, and the measurement close upon an inch in diameter. On one side it is convex, and has been shaped into a bulbous form. On the other it is flat, and into the surface two holes have been drilled which, meeting in the body of the object, form an excellent mode of attachment to a dress.

View to Keash Corann.
The view south across Circle 36 to the enchamted mountain of Keash Corann, the western portion of the Carrowkeel / Lough Arrow megalithic complex.

A Steatite Button

A precisely similar little object was discovered in the anta, or dolmen of Monte Abrahao in portugal, a fine allée converte in which no less than eighty interments had been placed, each interment, to judge by a plan of the monument in "Mat. pour l'Histoire de l'Homme," 1881, p. 462, formed into a little heap surmounted by the skull, as described by Mr. Walker in the account given above of a tomb opened by him in Sligo. The little button from the portuguese tomb is said to be of bone, but I strongly suspect it to be of the same material as the Irish example, since steatite, long exposed to the chemical action of the earth, would assume a porous and cellular appearance not unlike bone.

With the button at Monte Abrahao were found stone axes and other implements, lance and arrow-heads of flint, rouleaux of chalk, plaques of slate, turquoise beads, and various other pendants, some perfect vessels in the shape of skull-caps, and a quantity of fragments of pottery. A third instance of the discovery of a button of this sort occurred to me during the excavation of a cairn encircled and raised round a natural rock at Boscregan, in West Cornwall. In this instance, a little depression, or duct, had been cut across the flat side of the button, and between the two holes, as if to hold a pin. The convex side was not so bulbous, but otherwise the object was identical with those just described.

Dolmen 48 and Circle 49.
Dolmen 48 and Circle 49.

With it were found cinerary urns, a piece of thick, iridescent glass noticed above, some bluish, barrel-shaped beads of vitreous material, a perforated stone pendant, etc. The material of this button puzzled those to whom I showed it - some pronouncing it to be bone. I found it, however, to be steatite, so that it is identical in substance as well as in design with that from Carrowmore. A cruciform bead or button of stone, perforated in the same manner, was found in the tumulus at Dowth in the Co. of Meath. Some beads or buttons of stone found on Ballyboley Mountain, Co. Antrim, were similarly perforated.

Buttons are, to be sure, insignificant trifles, but when they exhibit in material and peculiarity of design characteristics which are idential, although found in different and not too widely remote localities, they afford evidence not to be hastily thrown aside, that, in the days when they were made, either the same people were dwelling in those respective localities, or that intercourse was taking place between their inhabitants.

The view from Carrowmore 48 to Sliabh da Ean.
The view from Carrowmore 48 to Sliabh da Ean.

These peculiar buttons, found on the western coast of the Iberian peninsula, in West Cornwall and in Ireland, occur under conditions which lead us to believe that they belong to the close of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Copper or Bronze Age, that is to say, according to the computation of Montelius, Lissauer, and others, to the fifteenth century B.C.

A certain type of flint arrow-head, found in the same localities, points to a like conclusion, while a peculiar form of lamp perforated for suspension, found in Ireland and portugal, and a rare type of the paalstab, or bronze celt, provided with perforated ears for attachment, found only in Portugal, South-West Britain, and Ireland, indicate the continuance of the intercourse between the peoples of those countries far into the Bronze Age itself. To this subject we shall recur later on.

Circle 49 at Carrowmore photographed by W. A. Green.
Circle 49 at Carrowmore photographed by W. A. Green.

In the tomb (LXI), above the flagging, were also a flat white quartz stone, nearly circular, weighing 2.75 oz.; at centre 0.75 inch thick; in one axis, 1.75; in the other 1 7/8 inches; eight cylindrical crystalline bodies from 7/16, to 15/16 in. in length, rough externally; the central axis crystalline (carbonate of lime). These appear to be stalactitic formations; and, finally, nine fragments of bone, some completely petrified, which cannot be identified as human.

Secondly, below the flagging: - (a) Forty pieces of a conglomerate of bones, stained with oxide of iron, humus, and carbon; the mass impregnated throughout, and cemented with calcareous infiltration. In some of the pieces may be seen the cylindrical stalactites, like fossil worms. This 'clinker' formation is probably a coarse glass, or fusible silicate, the result of a combination of sand and alkali (derived from the destruction of organic matter) under the influence of heat." (b) "Three thin, flattened, dull, reddish-brown bits of 'clinker,' tinged with oxide of iron, and not unlike fragments of a thin cinerary urn."

Each of the above interments was kept separate. The examination of the remains above recorded was the work of Dr. A. W. Foot, M.D. It seems to me possible that both in this case and in that of Trevelgue, above mentioned, the action of water in the cist may account for the bones being under the flagstones.

Circle 50 LXII. No. 50. Situated in the field to the North of LXI, West of the great cairn LXIII (dolmen-circle). "The remains of this circle, which was destroyed with its cromleac about three years previous to 1837 consist of twenty-four large stones."

- Petrie.

Carrowmore 49.
Site 49 has a fantastic view of Knocknarea with Queen Maeve's Cairn on its summit.