Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's cairn.
The Kissing Stone or Leaba na Fian at Carrowmore in County Sligo, copy of an illustration by Gabriel Beranger.
The Kissing Stone or Leaba na Fian at Carrowmore in County Sligo, copy of an illustration painted by Gabriel Beranger June 23rd, 1779.

The Kissing Stone

The Kissing Stone, which was also known as Leaba na Fian during Victorian times, is the most complete monument remaining at Carrowmore. The earliest illustration which dates from Gabrial Beranger's visit in 1779, is shown above; the monument has been remarkably little disturbed since that time.

Equinox sunrise over the Kissing Stone at Carrowmore in County Sligo. Photograph © Ken Williams, Shadows and Stone.
An amazing image of the equinox sunrise over the Kissing Stone at Carrowmore with Knocknarea mountain in the background.
Photograph © Ken Williams, Shadows and Stone.

The Kissing Stone is a classic tertre, an early open air passage grave. A complete circle of thirty-two large boulders, measuring thirteen meters in diameter surrounds platform supporting the monument. The platform here is scarped or scraped into the side of the hill. The inner circle of smaller stones eight and a half meters in diameter, indicates that the monument was free-standing, and was never covered with a cairn. The circle containing a raised earthen platform or tertre within the boulder ring is a common design feature consistantly used in the construction of the Carrowmore monuments.

Carrowmore 7, drawn from an original sketch by Petrie, 1837.
Carrowmore 7, drawn from an original sketch by Petrie, 1837.

The impressively graceful capstone is huge, and balances effortlessly upon the points of three upright chamber stones. The five sided chamber is a spacious area compared to most of the other Carrowmore dolmens. The entrance opens eastwards, aligned, according to Frank Prendergast, towards the equinox sunrise as it appears over Carns Hill four kilometers east of Carrowmore. All of the monuments at Carrowmore function individually as sundials, with the capstones projecting shadows onto the boulder circles and inner rings or circles.


As one of the largest and most accessible of the Carrowmore dolmens, the Kissing Stone was doubtless dug many times in the past. Roger Walker was known to have dug all the Carrowmore chambers during his undocumented treasure hunting excavations in the 1830's and 1840's.

Carrowmore 7 during excavations.
Circle 7 at Carrowmore during excavations.

The monument was excavated in 1977 and 1978 by Göran Burenhult and his Swedish team. The monument had been thoroughly cleared out by the time Wood-Martin excavated it in the 1880's. However, Burenhult found cremated bones in various deposits, which amount to about one kilogram in weight.

Fragments of red deer antler pins, a piece of chert, a fine arrow-head and a limestone marble were also found. An interesting discovery was a collection of about 200 unopened seashells found in a pit just outside the circle, which may be some kind of offering, or date from a later period. It seems from genetic results on neolithic diets that the Carrowmore people did not eat shellfish.

Early photograph of Carrowmore 7 by R. Welch.
Carrowmore dolmen number 7 photographed by Robert Welch in 1896.

The floor of the chamber was flagged; a post-hole discovered under the chamber floor may indicate that some earlier form of monument, perhaps a totem pole of some kind, may have preceeded the dolmen. There are a few stones remaining which seem to indicate a short passage opening to the east and away from Carrowmore. The dolmen is quite tall, and has plenty of room within the chamber, unlike, for example the Phantom Stones, which has a tiny chamber.

The Kissing Stone, dolmen 7, Carrowmore, County Sligo.

Sunset in late April 2022 viewed from The Kissing Stone, dolmen number 7 at Carrowmore, the great megalithic passage grave complex in County Sligo.The mountain in the distance, Knocknarea is capped by the massive neolithic cairn of Eoghan Bel and Queen Maeve. The Red Woman, an Irish mythological being who has been adapted by George R. R. Martin for his Game of Thrones series; his Melisandre is clearly based on Ella Young's Red Woman in her story, the Shining Beast.

Location of the Kissing Stone

The monument is built on the west side of a low hill, and is close to the north-eastern edge of the undulating Carrowmore plateau. Today there is a sudden steep drop behind the dolmen to the east, where a huge gravel pit was opened in 1904. Thousands of cartloads of gravel were excavated and transported to Sligo docks where they were used as landfill under the foundations of the new Harper-Campell factory.

The Kissing Stone was constructed on the west side of the hill, just fifty meters from the summit. The precice choice of view and location is provocative. Can it be that the monument is placed below the summit of the hill to enhance the already majestic view by including Knocknarea as a backdrop.

Watercolor of Carrowmore 7 by George Elcock.
A beautiful if somewhat exaggerated atercolor of the Kissing Stone by Charles Elcock, dated 29 August 1882. The image enlarges the dolmen and reduces the scale of the human to child or hobbit or fairy size, and compresses the horizon.

Both The Kissing Stone and The Druid's Altar have the largest capstones remaining at Carrowmore, and both have passageways which are pointing out of and away from the centre of the complex. It has been speculated that these two monuments may mark the formal entry point into the Carrowmore complex. This is the portion of the complex closest to the early causewayed enclosure at Magheraboy and the two massive neilithic passage-graves on Carns Hill.

Carrowmore 7 looking west to Knocknarea.
The Kissing Stone looking west to Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's cairn at sunset.

From this point, it could be said, a trail of monuments leads off to the north - following the line of the modern Sligo - Seafield road - by the strange spaced boulder circles 9, 9A and 10, and a collection of bronze age barrows. Recent work outside Sligo town on the Sligo bypass uncovered the remains of a large neolithic causewayed enclosure at Magheraboy which dates from about 4,150 BC, and it is highly likely that there was a route from the causewayed enclosure to Carrowmore.

Carrowmore 7 looking west to Dolmen 4.
The Kissing Stone looking west to Dolmen 4.

A small porcelin statuette of Venus was found, which may have been placed there by one of the early excavators, or visitors to the circles. A post hole was discovered under the chamber floor, which may indicate some kind of early activity, some kind of totem or surveying pole, or a marker used to lay out the circle.

Visitors will find that this is one of the most photographic monuments at Carrowmore, and is also the best place to take a picture of Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's cairn, with the circle in the foreground.

There has been no public access to this monument, which is located on private property, since August 2017.

Carrowmore  7, the most complete dolmen and circle at Carrowmore.
The Kissing Stone is the most complete passage grave remaining in the Carrowmore megalithic complex. This monument has an intact stone circle and perfect dolmen. The view is looking west to the hill of Knocknarea.