Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
The wedge monument on the sandy head at Streedagh point. The location is dramatic, with the Carbury or Dartry Mountains led by the remarkable Benbulben, for a backdrop. The panorama to the west is equilly dramatic: out over the Atlantic Ocean and Inishmurray Island.

The wedge at Streedagh is sited in a very beautiful location, up on the sand dunes on the north end of the Back Strand. The monument was exposed by a violent storm around 1840, when the covering of sand was cleared off the wedge by the elements. The wedge, which has never been excavated, probably dates to around 2,500 BC, the period at the end of the Irish neolithic and beginnings of the Bronze age. The monument consists of a chamber constructed of limestone slabs, measuring 3 meters long by 1.5 to less than a meter wide. The chamber is at the center of a circle of boulders some 11 meters in diameter, and the orientation is to the northeast. It was known locally in Wood-Martin's time as the Grave of the Wolfhound.

The chamber of the Streedagh wedge monument.
The chamber of the Streedagh wedge monument.

There are stunning views from this monument in all directions. Sitting perched on the dunes, it overlooks the majestic escarpment of Benbulben and the Dartry Mountains to the east. To the south is Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's Cairn. Knocknarea looks quite lobsided when viewed from its north side, while it looks symmetrical and balanced from the south (eg, Carrowkeel). To the south west is Nephin mountain, almost 70 kilometers away in County Mayo. Nephin marks the position of the winter solstice sunset when viewed from the wedge. To the west there is a fine view to Inishmurray island. Streedagh is the closest point on the mainland to Inishmurray.

William Wakeman's beautiful watercolour of the court cairn at Streedagh from 1880.
William Wakeman's watercolour of the wedge monument in Streedagh, August 1880. Copyright Sligo County Library.

William Wakeman visited Streedagh in 1880 on his tour of Sligo, and the site remains pretty much in the same condition except that sand has covered some of the stones again. He illustrated the wedge and the court cairn one kilometer to the east.

The court cairn at Streedagh
The court cairn at Streedagh, about one kilometer east of the wedge tomb.

The Streedagh court is very ruined today, with very little remaining of the structure. This may be because a ringfort or some kind of circular structure was constructed in front of the court, using stones robbed from the megalith. The monument is located at the crest of a low hill with fine views over the surrounding countryside, not the most typical location for a court.

William Wakeman's beautiful watercolour of the court cairn at Streedagh from 1880. Image © Sligo County Library.