Looking out of chamber towards Knocknarea

Carrowkeel Cairn E

I have been to the the megalithic complex at Carrowkeel on several occasions in the past, but never had the time to visit Cairn E, which stands 200 metres north of Cairn F on the ridge known as Carn Mor. We were so determined to visit this time that we took the hardest route straight up through the dense growth of bog heather (not recommended). But our efforts were well rewarded with spectacular views of County Sligo. To the north we could see Queen Maeve's cairn on Knocknarea, Ben Bulben and the Ox Mountains. The mountains of Donegal could also be viewed on the distant horizon. To the west we could see Cairn B in the foreground perched on top of the Treanscrabbagh Ridge, with Kesh Corran behind it and in the distance Croagh Patrick Mountain in County Mayo.

Unlike the other cairns that make up the complex, Cairn E is not round but oblong - 40 metre long by 11 metre wide. At the northern end is a roofless passage leading to a NNW -facing cruciform chamber. Each of the four compartments are divided with sill stones. The two opposed side chambers are still covered with a single roof slab resting on corbelling. The lintel stone over the passage, seen in the image above, is thought to be a modern addition. If you squat down in the main chamber and look north along the passage you can view Knocknarea in the frame formed by the side stones. During the excavations of 1911 a sherd of pottery known as Carrowkeel Ware was discovered in one of the chambers. It was wonderful to look east to cairns G, H, K and L as we moved carefully towards the southern end of the cairn.

Kesh Corran in the background

Looking along the cairn

Looking into the chamber with Cairn F top right

At the southern end of the cairn is the most surprising feature. There is a large orthostat 3.3 metres in length with two more set to the west and another to the east. These form a court-like stucture built into this end of the cairn. In the past it has been mistakenly described as a court cairn. 2.5 metres north of this structure is a small chamber that opens onto the eastern side of the cairn. 200 metres to the south lies cairn F, the largest one in the complex.

Situated: Cairn E stands on the top of the Carn Mor ridge, between Carrowkeel and the Treanscrabbagh ridge. It is probably best to head south from cairns L and K and then make your way east towards Cairn F and E.

Discovery Map 25: G 7490 1162. Last Visit: August 2013.

Longitude:  8° 22' 60" W

Latitude: 54° 3' 11" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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