Carlow is the second smallest county on the island of Ireland but it has an abundance of ancient heritage.
Carlow is the home of not one but two megalithic portal tombs known as Dolmens. The Brownshill Dolmen is situated a few miles outside Carlow town (on the Hacketstown road R726) and is accessible to the public by way of parking and a path which leads to the Dolmen.
This Dolmen is said to be the largest in Europe. It is situated in the middle of a field which has been fenced in such a way as to allow visitors to walk around it. It can be quite picturesque when the rapeseed is in full bloom, a crop that is particular to Carlow.
Haroldstown Dolmen is closer to the village of Rathvilly, also in the direction of Hacketstown (R727) and can be argued to be a much more interesting dolmen in terms of its structural design. It is not accessible to the public due to the fact that it is situated on private land along a sharp bend in the road and there is no parking facility. The dolmen can be seen while passing the narrow country road.
These dolmens are thought to be 4,500 years old dating back to 2,500 B.C. The granite top stones can weigh several tonnes, between 100 and 150 tonne in the case of Brownshill Dolmen (according to a number of on-line sources).
The Dolmens may have been sites of worship and ritual along with being burial tombs. Taking a closer look at the construction and arrangement of the stones, their strategic placement is quite remarkable. This is especially so when you observe that the top stone generally rests on very small points on the stones underneath and have remained in place for so many thousands of years.
Have you visited the Carlow Dolmens? Which is your favourite? How do they compare to other Dolmens that you have seen if any?
An art print of Haroldstown Dolmen could make a lovely feature for your home or an ideal gift for a loved one – View Art Print
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Author Caroline Cunningham