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Archaeology in the Ring of Gullion

The Ring of Gullion has a rich history from Megalithic, Iron age and through to the early Christian.

Archeology

Annaghmare

Annaghmare-TombThe court tomb at Annaghmare is one the best preserved examples of its type, with many of its features preserved in situ after they were first revealed during excavation in 1963-64. It stands on a localised rocky outcrop, the lower, once boggy, surroundings now planted with trees. The horseshoe-shaped forecourt stands at the southern end of the tomb and is defined by several large stones, up to 1.9m high, with the spaces between filled with drystone-walling. The most unusual feature of the forecourt, however, is a small standing stone to the south-east of the centre.

The cairn behind, which stands up to 1.8m above the natural ground level, narrows towards the north and is also defined by a mixture of upright stones and drystone walling.

A three-chambered gallery around 7m long, with evidence for its original corbelled roofing preserved in the inner chamber, is entered from the centre of the forecourt.

Although the outer chamber had been badly disturbed before the excavation, both of the others contained burial deposits, which included at least two cremations and the fragmentary unburnt remains of a child and an adult female. Finds included flint scrapers, a fine javelin head, numerous pieces of pottery and a canine tooth – probably from a bear! Intriguingly, the inner chamber also produced some evidence for Neolithic activity on the outcrop before the tomb was built.

Court tombs are named after the distinctive semicircular forecourt, which stands at one end of a long stone cairn that originally enclosed the burial chambers. More than 400 examples are known in Ireland, most of the north of a line between Carlingford and Sligo and there are eight examples in County Armagh.

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Ring of Gullion AONB
Crossmaglen Community Centre,
O’Fiaich Square,
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BT35 9AA.

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