This mound on top of this desolate hilltop is one of 14 cairns forming part of the Carrowkeel neolithic passage tomb cemetery. The Carrowkeel complex is located at an altitude of about 1000 foot in a dramatic location spread across the Bricklieve Mountains in county Sligo. This is one of  ‘big 4’ passage tomb cemeteries in Ireland (the other 3 are Brú na Bóinne, Lough Crew, and Carrowmore) but Carrowkeel pre-dates Newgrange by 500 years! The tombs were controversially excavated in 1911 by R.A.S. Macalister and the famous botanist Robert Lloyd Praeger which left some of the tombs in ruins, however the findings included an array of animal bones, cremated human remains, human bones, tools and pottery from both the neolithic and bronze age. Praeger gives an eerie account of his first impressions of the entering the tomb in his famous 1937 book ‘The Way That I Went‘. Some of the interesting features found included box-like cists, double kerbing, classic cruciform shaped chambers, dry-stone corbelled roofs and the incredible orientation of the tombs pointed towards Queen Maeve’s Cairn on the top of Knocknarea. (R)

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