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Passage cairn, Killeen North

Category: 
Passage cairn

This tomb is considered to be the oldest (yet discovered) evidence of human occupation on the Sheep's Head. Although the sign calls is a passage tomb it is more likely to be a passage cairn - a rectangular burial chamber that was once covered by a mound of stones. It dates from the Neolithic period, around 3000BC.  It sits in a commanding position on Peakeen Ridge, not quite at the summit but making good use of a natural rocky outcrop. Expert use has been made to take full advantage of the natural lie of the land, and it can be seen clearly from a distance. It also has commanding views across the peninsula and was obviously carefully positioned to see and be seen. 

It is in quite a sorry state and has been much disturbed,making it difficult to work out what's what. Many stones from the cairn have been scattered or reused to make the ever-increasing artistic modern cairns that now decorate it. A rectangular platform for storing peat was also built onto its southern side causing even more confusion. Several things can be noted with certainty: it is aligned SW/NE and seems to have at least one chamber with possibly another smaller chamber at the east end. Some of the side stones seem to be intact but the roofing slabs have collapsed. White quartz rocks are scattered here and there. The tomb is now home to small mammals and insects and is a botanist's delight with furze, hart's tongue, heather and wild thyme in its nooks and crannies.

 

 

Townland: 
Killeen North
Location: 
Sheep's Head Way - Peakeen Loop, park at the Pieta and follow the signs for the Loop walk
Fieldnotes: 

What an amazing place to be buried!! From here there are fantastic views down both Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay. It is a stiff and invigorating climb up, and usually the wind is howling. Catch a clear day though and it is wonderful - especially when the heather and gorse are blooming. You know when you have arrived for a sign in (now faded) yellow paint has been helpfully painted in a nearby rock with the words 'tomb'! A cairn is developing next to it.

Edit: The old painted sign has since been replaced by a more modern and respectful information  board.