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Ballymacdermot, Co. Armagh
Location: From Newry, take A 1 south. Take B 113 from A 1 and then take the first right. Continue straight
through the crossroads. The tomb is on this road about 1.5 kilometers up the hill. It is signposted on the right.
There is space for a car or two in a wider part of the road near the tomb.
Dimensions: This tomb has a very deep D-shaped court which may have been totally enclosed. It is about
7 meters wide and 5 meters long. There are three burial chambers in the gallery which is about 6 meters long.
There are pronounced jambs dividing the chambers and parts of the corbelled roof survive on the left as the
gallery is entered.
Features: Ballymacdermot - Bhaile Mhic Dhiannada, McDermot's town land -is a low mountain to the east of
Slieve Gullion. Located on a level terrace on the southeastern slopes of the mountain is this well-preserved court
tomb known as Ballymacdermot Cairn. Panoramic views over the plain of Meigh, Slieve Gullion and the
ring dyke hills to the south can be enjoyed from the site. Locally known as 'The Cashla', it is also spoken of as
'The Graves', and 'The Fairy Ring', and is reputed to be haunted.
Comments: This site is within a couple of kilometers of the Killevy Churches. If you drive up to Camlough
from Killevy and down B 30 to the southwest, it's just a short "hop" to the Ballykeel dolmen. This entire area is
just chock full of fine examples of ancient monuments.
History: Ballymacdermot Cairn (circa 3500 B.C.) has been investigated at various times in its history. In the nineteenth century
it was opened by treasure-seekers, including John Bell of Killevy Castle, who unearthed an urn containing pulverised
bone in one of the chambers. Mr Bell, writing in The Newry Magazjne in 1816, described the chambered cairn of
Ballymacdermot as a tamlachta or cairn. He reported that he and the local landowner, Johnathon Seaver had opened
the tomb and found an urn containing pulverized bone.
More recently, during the Second World War, some of the facade stones were knocked down and broken by the American
Army on tank manoeuvres. In 1962 the cairn was excavated and sherds of pottery and worked flints were recovered,
but owing to the acidic nature of the soil, only a few fragments of cremated bone were found. After excavation the
site was conserved, with fallen stones re-erected and broken ones repaired.