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View of Cairn H from the west side. The mound was excavated and rebuilt in 1943.

Loughcrew - Cairn H

Cairn H is, in some respects one of the most interesting of the cairns at Loughcrew. The monument has a typical cruciform chamber constructed within a mound of about 16 meters in diameter. There are some beautifully executed spirals on the sillstone covering the entrance to the right-hand recess, which contains a large basin stone.

The chamber of Cairn H.
The chamber of Cairn H.

Conwell examined Cairn H in 1865 and 1868 and made many finds, some from the neolithic and some from much later. You can read his excavation reoprt below. In 1943 Joseph Raftery excavated the monument, and his finds (which are still unpublished) led him to conclude that this monument was, in fact, constructed in the Iron Age, mainly because he found many carved bone slips at the foundation levels.

The chamber of Cairn H.
Megalithic spirals within the chamber of Cairn H.

Martin Brennan's research has demonstrated that most of the functioning Loughcrew cairns are aligned to an astronomical event. Brennan found that Cairn H warns that the November cross quarter day is approaching. Some two weeks before Samhain (the original Halloween), the sun illuminates the back of Cairn H before moving into Cairn L. As with all these monuments, there is bound to be a lunar element to these observations.

Looking out from the chamber of Cairn H.

The diameter of this cairn is 16 meters. A number of the chamber-stones of the cruciform tomb are decorated. Conwell records two fairly extensive investigations: the first in September 1865, when the passage and chamber were dug out, and the second in June I868, when the spoil-heap of the earlier excavation was carefully sifted. The right-hand recess contained a stone basin. A deposit three feet deep of Bones in a fragmentary state, nearly all showing evidences of having been burnt', was found in the passage. In this deposit were several pieces of quartz.

Autumn equinox sunrise from Cairn H.