The Brownshill Dolmen, Hackettstown. County Carlow 4000 – 2500 b. c.

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! 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. The capstones usually rest and slope backwards. The earliest portal tombs date from 4000 b.c to 2500 b.c and many were surrounded by mounds of stones called cairns. It probably resembled a miniature ‘Newgrange’ and was built by people with a similar belief system to ‘teleport’ the dead ancestors to the next World. 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 how they got that big boulder up there!