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
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."
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."
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: -
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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