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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.



Clontygora Court TombKnown locally as the ‘King’s Ring’, this court tomb has a prominent position in the southeast part of the rugged Slieve Gullion ring-dyke. It was built for collective burial by an early farming community who cultivated the land as long ago as 3500 BC. Despite damage to the structure it is a most impressive monument and more extensive than it first appears.

An imposing façade of tall stones, some over 2.7 metres tall, defines the deep U-shaped forecourt (hence the name, court tomb) where funeral rites were performed before the ashes or bones of the dead person were taken through the entrance, marked by two massive portal stones, to be placed inside the burial gallery. This forecourt may have been used for other ceremonies as well as for burial ritual. Roof slabs and a large capstone over the first of three chambers are supported on enormous split granite boulders. Court tombs usually face east but this one faces north, towards a stream 100 metres away.

An excavation in 1937 showed that the tomb was originally covered by a small elongated cairn flaring out around the forecourt. Finds from the excavation include cremated bone, flint artefacts and pottery. Stone Axe, Flint arrow heads and Quartz.

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