Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
A fantastic image of Carrowmore 52 photographed around 1894 by Robert Welch.
A fantastic image of Carrowmore 52 photographed by Robert Welch in 1896.

Monuments 52 and 53

These two monuments are situated on the northwest side of Carrowmore. The circles surrounding these monuments were broken up and removed to build field-walls sometime around 1837, when new tenants arrived to farm the land. When the circles were destroyed, the land was tilled for crops, and the platforms or tertres were ploughed away.

Carrowmore 52 and Queen Maeve's cairn on the summit of Knocknarea.
Carrowmore 52 and Queen Maeve's cairn on the summit of Knocknarea.

Dolmen 52 is a fine example of a split boulder dolmen: a large triangular block of gneiss supported by five uprights which form the chamber. Petrie recorded a fine big circle, removed shortly before his visit in August of 1837.

When the field-walls were removed, two large stones were uncovered which are all that remains of the circle. The dolmen is surrounded by a small cairn of stones: a modern field-clearance cairn.

Carrowmore  52, a split boulder dolmen with a tiny chamber under the capstone.
Carrowmore 52, a split boulder dolmen with a tiny chamber under the capstone. The view is to the southwest to the restored cairn at the central monument of Listoghil, and beyond to the cairn topped summits of Sliabh Dá Eán.

In Robert Welch's photograph at the top of the page, the dolmen appears to be much taller, demonstrating that the cairn has been added since his visit in 1896.

The few remaining stones from the passage indicate that the chamber is aligned to the central monument, Listoghil; or possibly across the focal monument to the lake upon the mountain. If this monument is older than Listoghil, the orientation may be to the Samhain/Imbolc alignment at Lough Dá Gé.

A small spall stone under the capstone of Dolmen 54.
A small spall-stone under the capstone of Dolmen 52.

Site 52 - Borlase

Borlase: - No. 52. Situated about 70 paces to the northwest of the cairn called Listoghil ( dolmen-circle ) .

This, which was a large circle, has been recently ( in 1837 ) destroyed for the materials which it afforded to build the wall connecting the field boundary in that direction with the road. The cromleac, however, which is a very large and apparently double one, still remains, but is in great part buried in stones collected to clear the adjacent fields. - Petrie.

"The cromleac, which is a fine specimen, remains. Its porch-like entrance is very remarkable. Possibly it may have been a double or figure-of-8 dolmen." - Wood-Martin.

William Wakeman's drawing of Dolmen 54 at Carrowmore from 1882.
William Wakeman's drawing of Dolmen 52 from 1882.

The dolmen measures 4 feet 6 inches in height. Its long axis is Northwest and Southeast The roofing-stone, which measures 5 feet 8 inches by 5 feet, and is in the centre about 2 feet 6 inches thick, rests on 4 stones, 2 on either side. The stone at the north-west end is missing; and the antechamber, porch, or continuation at the south-east end is formed by 2 uncovered stones. The gap or slit connecting this with the interior of the dolmen is only 6 inches wide.

In this cist there were six hundred and fifteen fragments of bones, all small, greyish-white, ashen-coloured and calcined. With them were two teeth ( of a ruminant ), part of the tibia of bird ( curlew or plover ), and a, piece of shell ( Helix ). Twenty of the bone fragments exhibited the peculiar transverse crack-like marks alluded to in preceding interments,

- Wood-Martin.

The view east from monument 53 at Carrowmore.
The view east from monument 52a at Carrowmore.

Monument 52a

Monument 52a was buried under the field-wall which was constructed around 1837, and for many years was considered lost or destroyed. The monument was relocated around 2001 when the Carrowmore field-walls were dismantled and removed fpr materials to restore the cairn at Carrowmore 51, Listoghil.

An image of Carrowmore 52 by William Alfred Green from around 1909.
An image of Carrowmore 52 by William Alfred Green from around 1910.

The circle was destroyed when the wall was built, and the chamber sits on a low mound, the remains of the platform or tertre, which is quite visible on the south side of the monument. A fairly long passage points to the east, somewhat to the left of Listoghil and this chamber may be oriented to the sunrises on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes at Carns Hill.

LXV. No. 53. Situated on the same field-boundary as LXIV, within about 100 feet of the road (dolmen-circle). "A few stones of this circle only remain. It was destroyed a few years ago by Mr. Walshe's herd, by that gentleman's order.

Carrowmore 52.
Carrowmore 52.

As usual, it had a cromleac within." - Petrie. "The few stones" have been removed, but its diminutive cromleac is still intact. An excavation was made with the following results: -

(a) Bones, which, according to Dr. Frazer, are all human, and had been imperfectly burned. They belonged to an adult, advanced in years, judging from the teeth and a fragment of the jaw with two molars and three incisors much worn down. were also portions of crania, thigh bones, etc.

Wall at Carrowmore.
Carrowmore 52a was incorporated into a field wall in 1837.

(b) A fragment of rude pottery, yellowish drab in colour, and 1 inch in thickness, being evidently part of a large vessel imperfectly burned. For the purpose of giving consistency to the material, small pieces of shells and pebbles had been mixed with the clay of which it was composed.

The fragments of shells and stones are not apparent on the surface of the vessel, but become visible only where it has disintegrated, or has been chipped or fractured. This specimen of pottery exhibits six rows of rudely punched depressions lnade at an angle downwards from the rim or lip of the vessel.

Carrowmore 52a may be oriented to the equinox sunrises over the massive west cairn on Carns Hill.
Carrowmore 52a may be oriented to the equinox sunrises over the massive west cairn on Carns Hill.

The two lower lines had evidently been punched with an implement of larger size than that which produced the upper marks. The rudeness of this fragment contrasts greatly with the finer specimen of pottery found in the South cist of Carrowmore 37 "to which a mixture of micaceous clay appeared to have given great consistency."

(c) Fragment of a flint-flake.

(d) Shells of Mytilus edulis (mussel), Litorina litorea (periwinkle), Litorina rudis (one specimen), Cardium edulis (cockle).

(e) An irregular mass of yellowish quartz, weighing 1 lb. 2 oz - Wood-Martin.

Carrowmore 53.
Carrowmore 53 was buried under a field-wall for many years. The monument was uncovered when the 1837 wall was dismantled. The view is to Site 52, the small dolmen, and Site 51, the large cairn. Sliabh Da Ean is the mountain in the distance.