Cliffony, Co Sligo, Ireland.
|| Grid Reference:
54.44° N, 8.43° W.
There are over 350
known court-tombs in the whole of Ireland, but only five are in the
south. Creevykeel, adjoining the Sligo-Bundoran road 2.4km (1-1/2 miles)
NE of Cliffony, is certainly the most impressive and has been thoroughly
The shapes of the pillar stones are unique, as well. Many
archaeologists refer to the stones and male and female, the males being the
cylindrical pillars; the females being the broader, smoother stones having a
diamond like shape
(Map of Site:
How to get there)
Creevykeel is also known as the giant's graves as three tombs once
existed in this area.
Two have since disappeared, at least one since
1912. This great court tomb was first excavated during the Fourth
Harvard Archaeological Expedition to Ireland in 1939. It was
shown as an antiquity on the 1909 OS Maps.
Located within a wedge-shaped cairn, this tomb was originally about 61 m
(200 ft) long. At the eastern end is the main entrance, through a small
passage, which leads into an oval forecourt. Originally paved, the forecourt
is very large : 17 x 10 m (56 x 33 ft). Close inspection shows a change in
size of the orthostats ending the court, as
if they might have been built in more than one phase.
Based on the surviving
kerbstones it is estimated that the length of the original cairn
was approximately 48 meters. Unfortunately the restorers have
overdone their job by extending the already impressive cairn
with an other 12 meters.
The tomb continues on beneath a lintel stone through two successive
chambers, where four cremations have been found. Even further on are the
remains of a possible three more burial chambers.
During Hencken's excavations of 1935, a chalk ball was discovered at
Creevykeel, it is an item similar to those found in Brittany, which may be a
further confirmation that court-tombs often slightly pre-date passage-tombs.
Other grave goods included Neolithic pottery, leaf-shaped flint arrowheads,
hollow scrapers, and polished stone axe-heads.
Creevykeel Court Tomb is roughly
built on an east-west axis, and apparently the stones used for the
court are perfectly aligned with the constellation of Virgo between
the autumn equinox and the summer solstice as they were in 3117 BCE.
'Court-tombs' are found in Sardinia, where they are referred to as 'giants
Prehistoric Irish Sites)