MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS
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AUGHNAGURGAN PORTAL TOMB
AUGHNAGURGAN PORTAL TOMB, COUNTY ARMAGH
The Portal tomb in the town-land of Aughnagurgan, (*Achadh Mic Gargáin meaning
'Mac Gargan's field') is not marked on the early 1830 edition of the OS map but
marked with stones on the OS 1860 edition and as 'Chambered Grave' on the latest
edition of the OS map. It is located in good pasture land, on a SW facing slope with a
good view of Tullynawood Lake (*Loch Thulach na bhFód, meaning 'lake of the
hillock of the sods) to the WSW, just north of the Upper Darkley Road, 2.5km SSE of
Darkley, (*Dearclaigh, meaning ‘place of caves or hollows’) & west of
Newtownhamilton, (*An Baile Ur, meaning 'the new town'). The remains of the tomb
consist of a very large capstone & four supporting stones, all of which are composed of
fine-grain granite. The capstone, measuring 3.2m in length, 2m in width & 0.3m in
depth, seems to have slid down to the SE forcing the other stones inwards so that they
now lean considerably. The two support stones at the NW are still upright and the
southern most 'portal' stone measures 1.47m in height, giving an approx original
height. Due to it’s poor condition, it’s orientation is difficult to ascertain but
O'Nuallain considered that it faces NE, up the hill (O'Nuallain, p.90). According to
James Bell in his written account to the Newry Magazine, dated 1816, it was a 'very
fine Cairne or taimhleacht'**. The 'Cromleach (or Druid's altar as called), the table
stone of which we found to measures 11ft 10ins in length, placed over seven pillars, but
in reality supported only by one'(Bell, p.235-6). Borlase believes that 'by this, I suppose,
must be meant that the structure had collapsed, and that one end or side rested on the
ground' (Borlase, p.299). Thomas George Farquhar Paterson in his field notes
recounts folklore as to the fate of the slipped capstone. He writes that 'the capstone
was dragged off its supports in the life time of the father of the present owner by the
young people of the neighbourhood as a sort of trial of strength' (Paterson, Notes No.
134).
**taimhleacht - burial ground/place
Sources:
Bell, J., 'Newry Magazine II' (1816)
Borlase, W. 'The Dolmens of Ireland' (Vol.I 1897)
O'Nuallain S., JRSAI CX111 (1983)
Paterson, T.G.F., PSAMNI, (Vol.I 1940)
* Placenamesni.org
CO-ORDINATES
54 11’ 56.052”N…6 40’ 1.449”W
NISMR ARM 024:002
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