LXIII. No. 51. Situated E. of LXII, and out in the N.E, portion of the oval area
surrounded by the chain of circles (cairn, with covered dolmen), called
is the most important monument of the entire series, and evidently, both
from its magnitude and central situation, marks the sepulchre of the most
distinguished person entombed in this great cemetery.
In its present state
of dilapidation it is impossible to describe its original proportions
with certainty, but enough remains to enable us to approximate to the
truth. In some respects, indeed, its partial destruction, by exposing
its interior, has furnished facts which could not otherwise have been
The situation is more elevated than that of any of the monuments
by which it is surrounded, and its circumference is considerably greater,
the diameter being about 150 feet.
Like many of the other monuments, it
consisted originally of two concentric circles with a cromleac, or kist-vaen
in the centre, but the space enclosed by the outer circle was covered
by a cairn, or heap of stones, originally, it is probable, not less than
40 or 50 feet in height.
The cairn having been used as a quarry for many
years past by the neighbouring inhabitants has diminished its altitude
so much as to expose the tomb within it. It (the tomb) is composed of
stones of great magnitude, and built with an unusual degree of regularity
The covering stone is 10 feet square, and 2 feet thick, and,
unlike those in all the other tombs, is not of granite but of limestone,
and so also are some of its supporters.
The persons who first opened it
assert that they found nothing within it but burnt wood and human bones.
The half-calcined bones of horses and other animals were, and still are,
found in the cairn in great quantity.
The stones which formed the outer
circle were of large size, but most of them have been carried away, and
we can only form now a conjecture as to their number, which, allowing
a breadth of three feet to each, would be one hundred and fifty." - Petrie.
cairn is in view both of the cairn on the summit of Knocknarea, and of
the two situated on Carns Hill, overlooking Lough Gill. Eighteen stones
remain of the inner circle, and only four of the outer circle.
point to the probability of the cairn not having covered more than the
space marked out by the inner circle. The stones in the chamber are set
in position with an unusual degree of regularity, the crevices being carefully
"spalled," or filled in. The clay in the interior was carefully turned
out and sifted.
The bones, few in number, were found principally in crevices
'It was a very miscellaneous assortment, consisting of numerous
small bones of the hand and foot, portions of ribs, vertebrae, fragments
of the long bones, also of the skull, pelvis, jaw, etc. There were undoubtedly
several interments, judging from the variety of the bones, none of which,
however, present any very special characteristic.'
This report of them
was given by Dr. E, MacDowel, M .D. Petrie was informed that "a large
spearhead formed of stone" had been found here by Mr. Walker.
A Flint Javelin
This is, I suppose, the "javelin,
or lance-head, formed of flint" (No. 103, in Wilde's Catalogue of
the Museum of the R.IA.), which Col. Wood-Martin says (R.S.M., p I7) "can
be conclusively proved to have been found in the cairn of Listoghil."
- Wood Martin.
flint, which Col. Wood-Martin calls "a beautifully formed flint knife,"
rewarded his exploration of this chamber. I doubt not that it was artificially
formed, nor that, as Mr. J. W. Knowles stated, it bears evidence of secondary
dressing. I would, however, prefer to regard it as a "strike-a-light,"
such as was found in X and others found by myself with calcined bones,
and sometimes in cinerary urns in Cornwall.
cairn," says Petrie,"is called Listoghil, or Rye-fort, but this
name is obviously not its original one, being founded on the erroneous
supposition that the monument was a 'Lis,' or 'Fort."*
in this cairn consists of six side-stones and one roofing-stone. It measures
internally 8 feet long by 5 feet broad, contracting at one end, however,
to 3 feet 6 ins. The three stones which compose this narrower end average
from 2 feet 6 ins. to 3 feet long, and 2 feet to 1 foot 6 ins. broad.
The large slab which composes the further end measures 8 feet long by
1 foot broad. One of the side stones adjoining it at right angles is 6
feet 6 ins. long by 1 foot 6 ins. broad, the one opposite it is 5 feet
9 ins. long, by 1 foot 6 ins. broad.
I have not the direction of the long
axis of this chamber. If denuded of its cairn it would resemble the flag-dolmens
MS. "Letters," loc. cit.; R.S.M., pp. 71-74, and p. 17.
this opinion I know not whether to agree, since in the Romances the sidhe,
or central caves in the tumuli, were fabled to be palaces, that is to
say, lisses in that sense, where dwelt the spirits of the dead, and in
which reigned the mythical kings of the race. In this sense a tomb, might
be called a 'lis.'
If Dr. Joyce's opinion be correct, that in toghil we
have the surname Tuathail (gen. of Tuathal), as in Listowel in Kerry,
which in the Annals of the Four Masters is called "Lios Tuathall," we may have
in this name an evidence of the existence of a tradition that this tumulus
contained the fairy-palace, i.e. sidhe, or tomb, of a king called Tuathal,
an idea which the other name, Rye Fort, if we might regard it as a corruption
of righ, ("a king," and fert, "a grave," might help
Tuathal, as the name not only of historic personages who occupied
the position of chieftains or petty kings, but of one of the half-mythical
monarchs who, throughout the Middle Ages, occupied the border-land between
tradition and myth, meets us continually in Irish history and romance.
Tuathal Techtmar (Tectumaros) was the conqueror of the Aitheach-Tuatha
- the villain tribes who had risen in rebellion and killed their king
- the man of Germanic name who put to route the allophylian barbarians,
just as Lug conquered the Fomorian Balor at the battle of Moytirra. He
is represented as a great conqueror defeating in turn the men of all the
four provinces of Ireland, as an equally great administrator establishing
the Convention of Tara, and as a tyrant in imposing on Leinster the tribute
called Boromean. A fitting name his for legend or tradition to associate
with the principal sepulchre in all this constellation of tombs, although
it would be folly to suppose that any tradition of the real name of an
occupant of any of them could have reached our day.
such an explanation, which is based rather on fancy than fact, we may
have in Listoghil merely the name "elevated lis, or fort," alluding
to its high position, or to the materials of the cairn thrown up to such
a height, just as in Clochtogal, the name of a dolmen in Fermanagh, we
have simply "the raised, or elevated, stone," alluding to the
position of the cap-stone, from tóghaim, "I raise."