Cairn T. Latitude: 53° 44' 41" N. Longitude: 7° 6' 45" W

Stone L1

Loughcrew Complex

Carnbane East

The Loughcrew passage tombs, also known as Slieve na Calliagh, meaning Hill of the Witch, are situated South East of Oldcastle, Co Meath. There are over 30 mounds and cairns, mostly on the two main hills, Carnbane East and Carnbane West. The Cairns are identified with letters, Cairn T pictured below, is the largest on Carnbane East approximately 120 ft in diameter, this cairn was covered in white quartz the same as used at Newgrange. Cairn T also has the Irish cruciform layout with a large central chamber and side chambers, also similar to the mounds at the Boyne Valley complex there are many inscribed stones.

The tombs were built around 3200 BC. The primary purpose of these passage mounds is to measure time. Cairn T is aligned with the Spring and autumnal Equinox, The image above shows L1 the first of the inscribed stones inside Cairn T, and the first stone the rising equinox sun illuminates as it enters the passage. Pictured below is the wonderfully inscribed backstone of Cairn T, stone 14. The passage of cairn T is constructed in a such a way that the suns rays forms a narrow shaft of light that highlights the rock art on the backstone.

Cairn T

Equinox Stone 14

During the time of spring equinox, 21st March, this rectangle of light highlights the solar symbol on the top left of the backstone slowly descending to the solar symbol at the bottom of the stone as the sun rises. This Cairn also indicates the Autumnal Equinox 22/23 September. There are many more examples of rock art in cairn T. To view more rock art click here. The image shown below is Cairn S taken from the top of Cairn T, the stones in the foreground are the cairn material of T. The passage and chamber of this mound are quite small. This passage is aligned to indicate the cross quarter days on 6 May and the 8 August. There were eighteen orthostats and three sill stones making up the passage of Cairn S.

The right recess of this chamber is now missing and as can be seen in the image above, part of the passage is blocked. Many of the chamber stones bear megalithic rock art, mainly sun symbols. Pictured below in the late evening light, are some of the stones that form the kerb of Cairn S. Although there is not a lot remaining of Cairn V, it is believed that it indicated the winter solstice sunrise, as I approached this site from Cairn T, seen in the background of the image shown below right, I noticed one of the remaining stones had some rock art inscribed on both sides of it, this stone is pictured below.


Cairn S. Latitude: 53° 44' 41" N. Longitude: 7° 6' 47" W

Cairn S

Cairn S Kerbstones



Cairn V



Cairn V Solstice Stone

There are a total of ten sites with physical evidence of some kind left on Carnbane East, these sites are all numbered as follows, from the west P1, P2, Q, R1,R2, S, T, U, V and the furthest East Cairn W. The main sites are the ones I have featured above and Cairn U pictured below, this image was also taken from the top of Cairn T.




Cairn V. Latitude: 53° 44' 40" N. Longitude: 7° 6' 42" W.

Cairn U is aligned to indicate the cross-quarter days on 4 February and 8 November. There are a few inscribed stones in cairn U that bear quite significant rock art mainly stones 8 and 14. On my latest trip to Loughcrew I was unable to get really good images of this particular rock art but will try again later. Carnbane West is featured on page 2 . I have also included a gallery featuring passage tomb art from Loughcrew on page 3.




Cairn U. Latitude: 53° 44' 42" N. Longitude: 7° 6' 44" W.

Cairn U

Cairn U Stone 14

Situated: From Oldcastle take the R195 to Millbrook branch left and then take a right turn (sign-posted) a narrow road will take you up to a small car-park, from here there is a steep path leading up Carnbane East. During the summer months there may be a guide there, for the walk around the grassy hilltops allow about 1 1/2 hours. The key for Cairm T is available at Loughcrew Gardens, but you will need your driving licence as a deposit.

Discovery Map 42. Last visit Aug 2013.

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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