Carrowkeel, Megalithic Cemetery, Co. Sligo.

Location – Just outside the small village of Castlebaldwin.
Accurate GPS readings will be given for each tomb on their own pages.

See map at the bottom of the page.

Description and History – Carrowkeel is one of the four main megalithic cemetery sites in Ireland. The other three are Carrowmore (also in Sligo), the Boyne Valley and Loughcrew (both in Meath). I have been to three of these sites and Carrowkeel is by far my favourite. Many of the tombs are complete and because of their remote and hard to get to location they are largely undisturbed. In fact in some of the tombs fragments of human bone can still be seen. This really is a special site and one that I will go back to again and again as I only saw a small number of the tombs on my visit.

Tombs here predate the pyramids and are roughly 5500 years old. The style of the tombs is very basic with no decoration and simple passage and chamber tombs. The more polished style of the Boyne Valley cannot be found here which suggests to me that these tombs are early in the development of Irish passage tomb building. In a similar fashion to Newgrange some of these tombs contain lightboxes which are aligned to important dates in the calendar. Many tombs are aligned with the summer solstice sunset.

When you go here do not climb onto the cairns or move the stones. The reason they have remained for to see it precisely because people have left them alone. The more people climb on them the quicker they will be destroyed. Also don’t leave rubbish on the mountain or in the tombs. I came out of one tomb with pocked of rubbish that people had left inside. It seems to be popular to light candles in the tombs and some of the stones have a lot of wax on them. This is not good for the stones and can’t be removed easily. Leave the tombs as you found them taking only the rubbish that thoughtless people have left behind.

Difficulty – This one is a little tricky. There is a path which winds its way along the side of the mountain to the top. You can bring a four wheel drive up there but if you do not have one then I would recommend parking at the bottom and walking up. The mountain is covered in blanket bog meaning that you will need wellingtons and you can easily find yourself knee deep in mud so watch your step. There are lots of stones hidden in the undergrowth so you will need to be careful and vigilant.

Click below for individual sites:

Cist tomb
Cairn G
Cairn H
Cairn K

View The Standing Stone in a larger map