Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
Circle 27 at Carrowmore
Circle 27, the ring with the largest stones and the only cruciform chamber at Carrowmore. To the left is Doomore cairn in the Ox Mountains. To the right is Queen Maeve's cairn on Knocknarea.

Circle 27

Circle 27 is located by the Kilmackeown Road east of the main monument at Carrowmore.

A fantastic photograph of Circle 27 at Carrowmore with Knocknarea beyond.
A fantastic photograph of Circle 27 at Carrowmore with Knocknarea beyond. Image © NMS.

Circle 27 has a complete ring of huge gneiss boulders, the largest found in the series of circles, originally set standing upright, though now mostly fallen over. There are many fine chunks and bands of quartz in these boulders. There are thirty-seven stones in the circle, which has a diameter of twenty meters. There is an inner circle of smaller stones which is just under fourteen meters in diameter.

A plan of Carrowmore 27, after Stefan Bergh.
A plan of Carrowmore 27, after Stefan Bergh.

Circle 27 has the only cruciform chamber found at Carrowmore. The passage and chamber are formed of thirteen stones, some of split gneiss boulders, and some limestone slabs. There are two limestone slabs which were probably part of a roof. The passage is oriented to the northwest, just to the right of Listoghil, the central monument at Carrowmore, roughly along the axis to the midsummer sunset. The chamber is set in a low stone packing which is bounded by the inner stone circle.

Circle 27 at Carrowmore.
The end recess of Circle 27 during excavations by the Swedish archaeological team. The picture was taken using a wooden tripod. © Göran Burenhult.

Wood-Martin excavated the chamber in the late 1880's, and found large quantities of cremated and unburnt bone, many fragments of sea shells, pieces of bone and antler pins, pottery fragments, pieces of quartz, and a flat bone ring, thought at the time to be whale bone, but now considered to be walrus ivory. A good quantity of human and animal teeth were found scattered throughout the chamber. A complete account of Wood-Martin's excavation, as printed by Borlase, is given on the next page.

A dragonfly at Carrowmore.
A dragonfly at Carrowmore.


The monument was excavated by Burenhult in the late 1970's. About 8.5 kilograms of cemated and uncremated bones were found, mixed with fragments of sea shells. Fragments of deer antler and bone pins, more pieces of walrus ivory rings, a stone bead, two chalk balls, and thirteen fragments of pottery all came from within the monument.

A small stone cist was found outside the entrance, which had more cremated bone. Several fragments of flint and chert were found outside the chamber, and a flint knife was found just outside the circle.

The monument was carbon dated from charcoal found in the stone packing: c. 3950, 3900 and 3850 cal BC respectively.

Circle 27 near sunset at the winter solstice, 2009. Queen Maeve's cairn atop Knocknarea can be seen, left.