MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS
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DUBLIN NORTH CITY LINKARDSTOWN BURIAL
( KNOCKMAREE LINKARDSTOWN GRAVE )
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This Linkardstown burial is located on top of a small, natural ridge, north of the
Upper Glen Road and a keeper's cottage, west of St. Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix
Park, 'Páirc an Fhionnuisce', which is just north of Chapelizod, 'Séipéal Iosóid,
(meaning 'Iseult's Chapel'). The tomb, dating from c.3,000 - 2,500 BC (late
Neolithic), is marked on the modern OSI map as 'Cist', on the earlier editions as
'Cromlech' and is also known as 'Knockmaridhe', 'Knockmary Dolmen' & 'Cnoc-
Maraidhe' or 'Hill of the Mariners' (PRIA p.187). The water worn capstone (NE-SW
axis), said to have come from the nearby River Liffey, 'An Life', is 1.96m in length,
1.05m in width and 0.33m in depth and is supported 0.35m above present ground level
by four slabs ( 0.80m - 0.35m in width ) and a modern concrete pillar for stability.
The chamber, which is below the ground level & not visible, measures 1.2m in length
by 0.60m in width, with a floor of compacted clay. Inside the chamber were found two
almost complete, male skeletons aged 40 & 50 in the crouched position, along with a
flint knife, shell necklace and a bone toggle. A small section of the capstone is
missing and on top are several cup-marks that are probably natural. The tomb was
discovered in 1838 by workmen who were employed by the Commissioners of Woods
and Forests, to remove an ancient tumulus which measured fifteen feet in height, and
120 feet in circumference. Subsequently, the Royal Irish Academy received a letter
from Mr. C. T. Drummond of Dublin Castle stating that 'an ancient tomb has been
discovered, which is of considerable interest, and fitted to throw much light on the
disputed question of the origin of 'cromlechs.'  I beg, therefore, to suggest, that a
deputation from the Royal Irish Academy should visit and examine this tomb'. The
Academy decided to send a deputation to examine and report on the discovery and on
May 28th, 1838,  Mr. George Petrie delievered their report to the Academy. He stated
that 'the tomb consists of a table, or covering stone, 6 feet 6 inches in length, from 3
feet 6 inches to 3 feet in breadth, and 14 inches in thickness. This stone rested on five
supporting stones, varying from 2 feet 6 inches to 1 foot 3 iniches in breadth, and
about 2 feet in height. Of these supporters there was one which did not actually touch
the covering stone, a small stone, since removed, having been wedged between it and
the latter; and there were five other stones, not used for supports, but as forming the
enclosure of the tonmb. In the recess thus enclosed, two perfect male human
skeletons were found, and also the tops of the femora of another, and a single bone of
an animal, supposed to be that of a dog. The heads of the skeletons rested to the
north, and, as the enclosure is not of sufficient extent to have permitted the bodies to
lie at full length, they must have been bent at the vertebrate, or at the lower joints. In
both skulls the teeth are nearly perfect, but the molars were more worn in one than
in- the other. Immediately under each skull was found collected together a
considerable quantity of small shells, common on our coasts, and known to
conchologists by the name of Nerita littoralis. On examination, these shells were
found to have been rubbed down on the valve with a stone, to make a second hole-for
the purpose, as it appeared evident, of their being strung to form necklaces; and a
vegetable fibre, serving this purpose, was also discovered, a portion of which was
through the shells. A small fibula of bone, and a knife, or arrow-head, of flint, were
also found' (PRIA pp.188-89). In the outer part of this mound there were found four
small stone cists, each of which contained an urn of baked clay and food vessels, two
of which were bowls, in which were pieces of burnt bone and ashes. This remaining
tomb was in the centre of the tumulus and no passage leading to it was recorded.
Borlase ponders whether this tomb is the same type as those found in Carrowmore.
He wrote that 'the resemblance of the structure, as it stands, to dolmens enclosed in
tumuli of the Carrowmore type, and leads us to think it more likely than not that
these features once existed'. J.W.Poe, suggested that the burial be more like a Cist.
He notes that this 'is the smallest to be seen in County Dublin, and is, perhaps, more
properly designated Kistvaen. It consists of a long table-stone, resembling a coffin in
shape, supported on several smaller stones set in the ground'.

Linkardstown Name & Dating:
During the course of ploughing in the 1940's, a megalithic grave was discovered in
the town-land of Linkardstown, south-east of Carlow town (CW012-017), which was
subsequently excavated by Joseph Raftery in 1944 and this name is now applied to
this small group of third millennium burials. The mounds, in most cases, are fairly
uniform in size, 22m-25m in diameter, although Knockmaree was 35m in diameter,
and are generally placed in relatively commanding positions on ridges or hilltops.
About nine or so other graves are believed to be of the Linkardstown type and they
consist of a low circular mound, at the centre of which is usually a massive, stone
polygonal cist, formed of large inward sloping granite blocks, covered with a single
or two over-lapping, stones and built on the old ground surface which formed the
floor of the grave. These burials were long dated to the late Neolithic period, around
2,000 BC, but recent radiocarbon dates from the tombs confirm that they can now be
firmly placed in the middle of the Neolithic. The dates are as follows: Ardcrony,
County Tipperary - c.2725 BC; Ballintruer More, County Wicklow - c.2850 BC and
Ashley Park, County Tipperary - c.2815 BC (Manning, C.). These dates are
comparable with that of the great passage tombs, to which their round mounds,
central burials and grave goods seem to relate to. It also shows that the single-grave
burial in cists was being practised at the same time as the communal burials in that
of passage tombs.
Sources:
Borlase, William C., ‘The Dolmens of Ireland’ Vol. II (1897)
Manning, C., ‘A Neolithic Burial Mound at Ashleypark, Co. Tipperary’ PRIA (1985)
Poe, J., W. ‘The Cromlechs of County Dublin’ (1904)
Wood-Martin, W., G. ‘Pagan Ireland’ (1895)
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 1 (1836 - 1840, pp. 177-191)
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