Autumn equinox sunrise, 22 September 2011 viewed from the chamber of Cairn I. A large crowd gathered to watch the sun illuminate the chamber of Cairn T a mile away. The chamber of Cairn I is oriented to Cairn T.
The Fire Eye stone from the passage of Cairn I
Cairn I is located on a small knoll to the south of Cairn L on Cairnbane West. Interestingly enough, there is a rocky outcrop 10 meters to the south which would have been and even more dramatic setting, but it was not used. Cairn I is about 19 meters in diameter, and has 10 kerbstones remaining, one of which has an unusual curve or dip in the top. There is a larger 'horned' kerbstone, the Hag's Chair on the north side of Cairn T, and another, K52 is found at Newgrange.
The chamber has seven recesses or compartments, divided by upright slabs, and is similar to nearby Cairn L. The passage and chamber measure about 7 meters in length, and the orientation is directed towards the focal monument at Loughcrew, Cairn T.
The chamber is unroofed, and one possible corbell with engravings (right) remains in the rear left recess. There are 13 decorated stones remaining, with some very beautiful engravings, including the so-called Fire Eye stone (below, left) on the north side of the passage. Anyone interested in seeing all the Loughcrew art is directed to Elizabeth Twohig's book, The Megalithic Art of Western Europe, which has illustrations of all the engraved stones, based on a series of rubbings. The illustrations here are from that book (not to scale), with a little colour added.
According to Martin Brennan's research, Cairn I serves as an indicator of the approaching autumn equinox. About two weeks before equinox, the sun rises over Cairn T. Though no major study has been done yet, the movements of the moon are also likely to be tracked by this site.
The view of Cairn T from the end recess of Cairn I. The sun rises over Cairn T two weeks before the autumn equinox. The megalithic art is highlighted with Photoshop.
Located to the west of and immediately behind Cairn L and almost touching its kerb, the remains of Cairn J are about 14 meters in diameter. Conwell noted three decorated stones within the much disturbed chamber. The monument appears to be oriented south of east and across Cairn L, which indicates that it pre-dates Cairn L. A 'roughly-finished brown stone ball, about an inch in diameter' was the only find.
The disturbed chamber of older Cairn J is oriented to Cairn L, indicating that L was built later.
A smallish mound (Herity says 15 meters in diameter), Cairn K is dramatically situated on a small outcrop of rock immediately to the north of Cairn L. This monument is seperated from the others on Cairnbane West by a fence, and has been much trampled by animals. A kerb of long slabs survives; one or two have fallen down the slope from the entrance. The chamber is pretty ruined. Conwell reported two engraved slabs within. The orientation is reported to be roughly 110°, the direction of the Boyne Valley, though it looks to me as though it may be oriented to the east, and the equinox sunrise.
The view from the back of Cairn K. Though the chamber is quite ruined, it appears to be oriented to the equinox sunrise to the east. In this picture the Autumn equinox sun has just risen to the right of Cairn T.