On Saturday 30th September volunteers are being given a unique opportunity to help repair an ancient stone-age structure. The Passage tomb at the summit of Slieve Gullion was constructed over 5,000 years ago and is the highest surviving passage tomb in Ulster. However, the footsteps of many thousands of modern visitors have taken their toll and the tomb is now in need of some upkeep.
Work is urgently needed on the passage tomb to preserve the monument by relocating displaced cairn stones from the entrance and chamber back to the top of the cairn. The work will also repair the modern ‘paths’ eroded on the side of the cairn by visitors. It is essential that this work is completed before the Winter Solstice, when the tomb’s alignment means that the light of the setting sun illuminates the passage and reaches the back of the chamber, inside the cairn.
“The magic of the sun’s setting beams lighting the very back of the tomb is a unique experience, but this very magic has made the tomb a victim of its own success and unless maintenance projects like this take place the passage grave could be permanently damaged” said Des Murphy, Chair of the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Scheme.
The Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery funded programme, which conserves and enhances the region’s most treasured landscapes, in partnership with the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities, is asking volunteers to meet at the first carpark on the forest drive at Slieve Gullion Forest Park, at 10am on the 30th September. The volunteer day will start with a fascinating guided walk to the summit before the group starts the rewarding task of rebuilding parts to the tomb and repairing the damage to this magnificent structure.
“This is a rare opportunity to work on a scheduled monument,” said Roisin Mulgrew, Chairperson of Newry Mourne and Down District Council, “this task is very much a case of many hands make light work and two years ago, when this task was done before, over 30 people helped out” she continued.
To register to take part in this unique opportunity please register here or call Alison on 028 3082 8594.