At a Glance
County Sligo
OS Map 16
OS Coordinate G 719 546
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Ancient Ireland Home

Creevykeel, Co. Sligo

Location: Creevykeel is located in a rural coastal environment in Co. Sligo, approximately 20-40 meters to the north of N 15 between the towns of Mullaghmore and Bundoran. The site is clearly signposted. The cairn is situated on a gentle north-facing slope surrounded by pastureland, and is located within a modern sub-rectangular stone enclosure. There is a carpark with ample space for multiple cars adjacent to the national road. The tomb is accessed via a short path from the carpark.

Dimensions: The cairn is trapezoidal and is about 21 meters across the "front" at the SE. Because the NW "rear" of the cairn was destroyed, it is not certain what the actual length was originally, but the surviving revetment indicates it was at least 48 meters long. The cairn was retained by this dry stone revetment which was built directly on the ground surface. Most of this has disappeared but in some places surviving sections still reach up to about 1.5 meters high. Two short sections, one at the northeast and one midway along the southern side have double walls separated by about a meter. In addition to these small sections, the entire southeast "front" end of the cairn has double walls four meters apart, appearing very like an extension. Lines of orthostats, two to three meters long, run outside of the cairn on the north and south sides.

The entrance to the court is set into the middle of the slightly concave SE end of the cairn. An orthostat-lined, paved passage, this entrance is 1 meter wide and 4.5 meters long. The court is oval shaped, 15 meters by 9 meters and is also lined with orthostats. Unlike the cairn revetment that are set in socket holes, these stones rest directly on the ground surface. Both the court and passage orthostats have dry stone inter-fill in places, a technique which is also seen in the walls of gallery chambers themselves. The orthostats that line the court vary in height averaging one meter, and increase in size nearest the gallery entryway. These entrance stones are approximately 2 meters high. In the north and south walls of the court, where a kiln had been installed in early Christian times. In the center of the court was a large shallow sand-filled pit outlined by bands of stones dating from the same time period, used for smelting iron.

The gallery is entered between two chunky jamb stones, set 50 cm apart and each about 1.3 meters tall which bear the massive lintel stone, 2 meters x 1.5 meters x .50 meter. The area around the entrance was paved. The gallery is about 7.3 meters long and narrows from 2.4 meters wide at the back to 2.2.meters inside the entrance. The gallery is divided into two chambers by a second pair of jambstones. The front chamber runs for about 4.5 meters and the rear chamber is about 3.5 meters long. The back stone is gabled, as are the intermediate jamb stones, all shaped to support the original corbelled roof of the chamber, traces of which can still be seen at the rear of the chamber.

Features: Trapezoidal Court tomb composed of various forms of local limestone. Reconstructed after 1939 excavation, it consists of an oval-shaped court and a two-chambered gallery divided by jambs.

Comments: Because of it's easy access from the National Road, this site may be crowded during high tourist season. We were quite pleased to have this monument to ourselves in mid-May.

History: 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 had been first shown as an antiquity on the 1909 OS Maps. Excavation finds included sherds of neolithic bowls, axeheads, ancient scrapers and knives, a stone bead, two clay balls and remnants of decorated Early Bronze Age ware. Little evidence of burial was found, though some cremated bone was found in small pits in both chambers. The massive lintel at the entrance to these chambers which had fallen in antiquity was re-set after excavation

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