The Brownshill Dolmen, Hackettstown, County Carlow

This national monument is the Brownshill Dolmen. It is not only the largest example in Ireland but also in Europe with a capstone estimated to weigh in at over 100 tonnes! The earliest portal tombs date from c.2500-4000 BC and many were surrounded by mounds of stones called cairns. Portal tombs are so called because the entrance to these burial chambers are marked by a pair of tall portal stones which are covered with a single capstone and were believed to be designed to ‘teleport’ the dead ancestors off to the next World. The capstones usually rest and slope backwards. Over time many of the cairn stones were removed so all you see is the skeleton of the original building. The Brownshill Dolmen however, has always confused antiquarians and archaeologists just how they got that big boulder up there!