Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
The earthen platform under Circle 56, looking up the the cairn on Sliabh Dá Eán in the Ox Mountains.

Circle 56

Monument 56 at Carrowmore sits on the edge of the low ridge behind the Visitor Center, right beside the much larger Circle 57. The monument is composed of a low circular earthen mound surrounded by a ring of small to medium sized stones. Earthen mounds called tertres are a very early form of passage grave common in the Gulf of Morhiban region. In the middle of the platform is a paved chamber composed of five stones—a common feature at Carrowmore—with a short passage pointing to Listoghil about 70 meters away.

It seems that the dolmen was perfect when Petrie saw it in 1837. When Wood-Martin and Wakeman saw it the capstone had been lifted and moved a few meters to the east edge of the platform. This was probably Roger Walker of Rathcarrick who dug in many of the Carrowmore circles. Wood-Martin found evidence of cremation fires.

Circle No. 56. Situated immediately to the north of the cairn called Listoghil, and about 70 paces from it. "The diameter of this circle is about 36 feet, and it is nearly perfect. The cromleac is quite so." - Petrie.

Sites 56 and 57 illustrated by William Wakeman in 1879.

"The capstones of the original kistvaen are gone. The general form of the tomb is that of the figure of eight, with a narrow opening between the compartments. The longer axis is north-north-east and south-south-west. The interment had been greatly disturbed."

There was evidence of uncalcined as well as calcined human interment. At the north-north-east end of the cist there was a calcined interment, and above it an unburnt interment. Of this the atlas and lower jaw of an adult were nearly perfect, with four back teeth and three incisors. There were also portions of a cranium. Besides these there were six bones of a young child, and a few bones of a small rodent.

View from the chamber of Circle 56 to Listoghil.

As the excavation proceeded, that is, went deeper, fragments of calcined human remains were turned up. They consisted of eight hundred and seventy-three small bones had been imperfectly burned. Several fire-marked and partially carbonized bones were observable (as well as others in a fragmentary condition), such as the anterior half of the axis (second cervical vertebra).

Pieces of the right and left halves of the body of the lower jaw, the right half containing a sound, firmly implanted first molar tooth the left half containing the roots (all sound) of the first molar, two bicuspids (premolars), and the canine teeth; four pieces of the flat bones of the skull (parietal or frontal); human teeth, i.e. four fragments of, and four complete incisors, two bicuspids, and four lower molars, the crowns of each molar sound.

Amongst the fragments which formed the bulk of this collection there were many which showed the crack-like marks noticed in the contents of other graves. In fact, some of the bones appear as if they had been subjected to greater heat than others.

Looking east across Circle 56. The large Circle 57 can be seen beyond.

At the lowest level of the side-stones of the cist—which were of the average height of 4 feet—a floor or flagging of calpy limestone flags was found. On this the bodies seemed to have been originally cremated, portions of the floor showing marks. Semi-burnt wood was also found intact in places, with a layer of calcined bones above."

It was also plainly evident, according to Mr. James Graves, from the fact that the flooring and the burnt bones extended under the side-stones of the cist, that these side-stones and their cover, which formed the dolmen, had been set up over the funeral pyre, that the calcined remains formed the primary interment, and that they had not been placed within an already completed chamber, but that that chamber had been built on and around them, the flagging which formed its flooring having served as the original hearth. " No implements, ornaments, or traces of fictilia were discovered." - Wood-Martin.

Looking west across Circle 56. The large displaced capstone can be seen in the foreground. Beyond is the majestic Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's cairn.