Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
Circle 27, the ring with the largest stones and the only cruciform chamber at Carrowmore. To the left is Doomore cairn in the Ox Mountains. To the right is Queen Maeve's cairn on Knocknarea.

Circle 27

Circle 27 is located by the Kilmackeown Road east of the main monument at Carrowmore. It is one of the best examples of a Carrowmore circle, along with numbers 3 and 7.

Circle 27 has a complete ring of huge gneiss boulders, the largest found in the series of circles, originally set standing upright, though now mostly fallen over. There are many fine chunks and bands of quartz in these boulders. There are 37 stones in the circle, which has a diameter of 20 meters. There is an inner circle of smaller stones which is just under 14 meters in diameter.

Circle 27 has the only cruciform chamber found at Carrowmore. The passage and chamber are formed of 13 stones, some of split gneiss boulders, and some limestone slabs. There are two limestone slabs which were probably part of a roof. The passage is oriented to the northwest, just to the right of Listoghil, the central monument at Carrowmore, roughly along the axis to the midsummer sunset. The chamber is set in a low stone packing which is bounded by the inner stone circle.

The end recess of Circle 27 during excavations by the Swedish archaeological team. The picture was taken using a wooden tripod. © G Burenhult.

Wood-Martin excavated the chamber in the late 1880's, and found large quantities of cremated and unburnt bone, many fragments of sea shells, pieces of bone and antler pins, pottery fragments, pieces of quartz, and a flat bone ring, thought at the time to be whale bone, but now considered to be walrus ivory. A good quantity of human and animal teeth were found scattered throughout the chamber. A complete account of Wood-Martin's excavation, as printed by Borlase, is given on the next page.

The monument was excavated by Burenhult in the late 1970's. About 8.5kg of cemated and uncremated bones were found, mixed with fragments of sea shells. Fragments of bone pins, more pieces of walrus ivory rings, a stone bead, 2 chalk balls, and 13 fragments of pottery all came from within the monument. A small stone cist was found outside the entrance, which had more cremated bone. Several fragments of flint and chert were found outside the chamber, and a flint knife was found just outside the circle. A photo from Burenhult's excavation can be seen above.

The monument was carbon dated from charcoal found in the stone packing: c. 3950, 3900 and 3850 cal BC respectively.

Circle 27 near sunset at the winter solstice, 2009. Queen Maeve's cairn atop Knocknarea can be seen, left.