Banner: Knocknarea sunset
Cairn V at Loughcrew.
Cairn V is one of the seven monuments on the summit of the central hill at Loughcrew. Note the 1800's cultivation ridges in the field beyond.

Cairn V

Cairn V, to the south-east of Cairn T, is about 10 meters in diameter, and has a ring of small, uniform kerbstones. Several large slabs appear to be the orthostats of a chamber with five compartments, with two loose flags which may be floor stones or corbels. The chamber is constructed on a low platform within the circular kerb, much like the earliest monuments of this type at Carrowmore in County Sligo.

Cairn V at Loughcrew.
Cairn V is oriented towards Cairn T.

The passage is oriented towards the entrance to Cairn T, possibly indicating that it is an older monument. Martin Brennan thought the chamber was oriented to the winter solstice sunset. A large flat slab stands one meter out from the kerb on the northwest side, in the direction of Cairn T, outside what appears to be the entrance to the chamber.

Carvings in Cairn V.
Engraved orthostat within the chamber of Cairn V.

The chamber has a double cruciform plan, with an end recess and two recesses on each side, all composed of large slabs. Engravings can be made out on four of the remaining chamber stones, though as of 2019 thay have become extremely weathered. Conwell found a 'long rounded white sea-pebble, which from appearances, may have been used as a sling-stone, or a hammer' by the outer stone.

Carvings in Cairn V.
Engraved orthostat within the chamber of Cairn V, about 1995.

It is likely that this monument, an early form of passage grave, was never covered with a cairn of stones like nearby Cairn T. The earliest monuments consist of free-standing chambers placed on raised mounds or platforms called tertres in the Carnac region. These types of early monument are often considered to be incomplete or robbed-out, but many may, in fact look like they did when first built.

Cairn W at Loughcrew.
The chamber of Cairn W is oriented due south.

Cairn W

Cairn W is quite a small monument, being about 7 meters in diameter about 300 meters east of Cairn T. The monument consists of a kerb of small stones surrounding a turf platform or tertre about one meter high. The monument contains a sunken oval chamber about 2 meters long with no recesses.

Cairn W at Loughcrew
Cairn W, undermined by rabbits.

There were five decorated stones and a stone basin found here during Conwell's excavation. He recorded a layer of charred bones 15 cm thick covering the floor of the chamber. The only other find was a chert knife 6 cm long.

Cairn W at Loughcrew
Cairn W looking west to Cairn T.

Martin Brennan called this monument the 'Pot Cairn' and gives the orientation of the chamber as south, possibley used to monitor the height of the sun in the sky at midday on important dates, such as the equinoxes. Brennan mentions that an unusual pot was found in the chamber, but Michael Herity does not list it in his inventory in Irish Passage Graves.

Cairn W at Loughcrew
Cairn W looking east to Patrickstown Hill.

This monument might be classed ar a tertre, the earliest form of passage grave to arrive in Ireland. In its form and structure Cairn W is similar to monuments found at Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in County Sligo. The monument is currently under pressure from rabbits who are digging through the platform and undermining the chamber.

Vew from Cairn V.
Cairn V looking south-east, the general direction of the Boyne Valley, on a hazy afternoon, Easter 2011. Loughcrew commands wide views, and the Hill of Tara and the Wicklow Mountains are visible in clear weather.