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View to the northeast from the ruins of Cairn M, with Cairn T on the summit of the next hill.

Cairn M - Carraig Breac

Cairn M, a fairly large cairn with a diameter of about 20 meters is perched on the top of its own hill at an altitude of 244 meters. This hill, called Sliabh Rua - the Red Mountain and Carraig Breac - the Speckled Rock, is really a fourth hill in what this classic triple megalithic complex. It lies about halfway between Cairnbane west and Sliabh na Cailleach and somewhat to the south of both. There is a large rock outcrop on the southwest side of the hill where a family of ravens live.

View from Cairn M.
Large erratic sandstone block close to Cairn M.

The cairn is fairly ruined with no indication of the type of chamber or passage. There are no visible large rocks, though Herity mentions kerbstones. The south side of the cairn has been flattened, probably during land clearance. This monument stands out clearly on the horizon when viewed from the south.

The large boulder, shown above, 30 meters to the northwest of the cairn, is the only large stone remaining. Perhaps this is the Speckled Rock?

The view west from Cairn M
Looking west from Carrig Breac, the Speckled Rock near Cairn M. Cairn D stands clear of the horizon from this position, while Cairn L is by the tree to the right.

When viewed from Cairn L, the November and Febuary cross-quarter day sunrises come up over Cairn M. The Beltine and Lunasadh cross-quarter day sun rises over Cairn T and sets behind Cairn L.

An amazing aerial view of Cairn L and its surrounding cairns. Photograph © Liam Kenny, Suas Media.
An amazing aerial view of Cairn L and its surrounding cairns. Photograph © Liam Kenny, Suas Media.

Cairn N

This is a fairly ruined monument on a knoll to the southwest of Cairn T, at 213 meters above sea level. The cairn was perhaps 19 m in diameter, judging from the remaining mound of stones. There are several kerbstones still in position, but none of the chamber stones are visible.

View west from the ruins of Cairn M.
View west from the ruins of Cairn M.

The nearby standing stone a 2 meter flat slab, is illustrated by Martin Brennan with an unusual engraving, barely visible today. There is also a more modern cross on south edge of the stone.

Equinox sunset from Cairn N
Equinox sunset as seen from Cairn N. The sun drops behind Cairn D on Cairnbane West.

Researcher Martin Brennan claimed the winter solstice sunset, when observed from here, sets behind the Ben of Fore - an unusual shaped hill about 16 kilometers away, but this has been disputed by other researchers. I have observed the equinox sunset from this position, when the sun drops behind the largest monument at Loughcrew, Cairn D on Cairnbane West.

Standing stone near Cairn O
Decorated standing stone near the ruined remains of Cairn O

Cairn O

Cairn O was located just within the gate one enters to access Cairnbane West from the road. Today a low circular mound remains, which would be easy to miss were it not for the OPW notice. The monument measured about 10 meters in diameter. There were three stones remaining in Conwell's time. An engraved stone, probably from this site has been re-erected by the hedge. A few large stones in the ditch south of here are probably also from this monument.

View west from the ruins of Cairn N.
View west from the ruins of Cairn N.

The landowner does not allow visits to Cairnbane West without permission. This is a pity as the sites on Cairnbane West have some beautiful examples of neolithic art, and at Cairns I, L, H and F, enough of the passages and chambers remain to observe sunbeams. In an ideal world, this fantastic site would to be purchased by the government and protected.

Standing stone near Cairn N
The engraved standing stone beside Cairn N is said to be aligned to the winter solstice sunset. From this position the equinox sunset drops behind Cairn D on Cairnbane West.