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Townleyhall, Co. Louth
Location: About 5.5 kilometers east of Droheda. From Droheda, take N 51 east. Cross the Motorway. The
Boyne river shadows the road for a short way on the left. Once the river diverges from N 51, pass the first road on
the left (that road heads to Dowth) and within about a kilometer there will be an opening in the hedgerow with a stile
on the right. The tomb is on the far side of this field, surrounded by a fence. Parking along the road is tricky,
but there is a widening at the cottage opposite the road from the tomb (and a bit past it).
Dimensions: Approximately 1.5 meters high and nine meters in diameter.
Features: This is a small tumulus in comparison with it's neighbors: Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange, but it's
a neat example of how a simple passage tomb is constructed. Left open on one side, it clearly shows the passage and chamber,
with concrete representations for the positions of the sockets where orthostats would have been. Around the reconstructed
mound are kerbstones. There are several large orthostats at the rear of the chamber, one of which contains either a small
bullaun or solution pit.
Comments: There isn't much to this little mound, but it's well worth stopping by when in the area just
to get an idea of what the other small unexcavated mounds in the area might contain.
History: Townleyhall (aka Littlegrange) is associated with the Boyne valley group of passage tombs, though
considerably smaller than those of Knowth Dowth and Newgrange.
Excavated in 1962 by archaeologist George Eogan from Meath. In 1959 Trinity College acquired the Georgian Townley
Hall, together with lands in the Boyne valley, and equipped it as a research centre with library, laboratories and
accommodation. Development of the land involved some reclamation, and Frank Mitchell, by then the University's
Registrar, asked George to investigate a small feature in a field on the estate. George, although just awarded a
research scholarship to Jerusalem, undertook a four-week dig. The "feature" was another passage tomb of Glyn Daniel's
'Undifferentiated' type, in which the single chamber is little more than an extension of the passage but in plan forms
'a sort of wedge or V'. Such tombs were then thought degenerate types late in the Neolithic period.
This tomb, however, overlay what appeared to be a temporary habitation site used by the tomb's builders, and
this produced sherds of Carrowkeel Ware, dated to the same period as the tombs, about 3,000 BC. The chamber contained
cremated remains, but the number of individuals is unknown.