One of the ‘Big 4’ ancient passage tomb cemeteries of Ireland

The Carrowkeel Neolithic Cemetery is located near Ballymote on a desolate hilltop 1000 feet above sea level in County Sligo. It dates way back to c.3400BC and is just one of 14 cairns forming part of the Carrowkeel Neolithic Passage Tomb Cemetery. This is one of  ‘big 4’ passage tomb cemeteries in Ireland (the other 3 are Brú na Bóinne, Lough Crew, and Carrowmore) but this one 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. The findings included an array of animal bones, cremated human remains, human bones, tools, and pottery from both the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. 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 curbing, classic cruciform shaped chambers, and dry-stone corbelled roofs. Many of these great tombs are also incredibly orientated towards the great cairn of Queen Maeve on the top of Knocknarea just south of Sligo Town.