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Cairn S at Loughcrew
Cairn S, a neolithic chambered cairn on the summit of Sliabh na Cailleach in Loughcrew. The image is taken from the top of Cairn T, the central monumet on this hill.

Cairn S

This somewhat unusual monument is close to Cairn T. The passageway is 5 meters long and is oriented to the west. The chamber is Y-shaped, the only such example known. The monument is encircled by a kerb composed of both rounded and flat glacial boulders, 17 meters in diameter. Six orthostats are ornamented.

Eugene Conwell excavated the monument.

S is only five yards to the west of T, and fifty-one yards from R. Thirty-three large stones standing on ends form a circle, eighteen and a half yards in diameter, round the present remains. The apex of this carn is completely gone, leaving exposed the tops of the upright stones forming the chambers, the arrangement of which here differs from the others in having the passage or entrance from the west — exact bearing W 10°N. The entire length of the passage and chambers taken together is fifteen feet.

The passage itself, which varies in breadth from two feet three inches to two feet seven inches, is divided by transverse upright stones into two compartments, each about two feet square. Immediately outside the entrance of the passage was found a perfect specimen of a leaf-shaped arrow-head, in white flint, an inch and a half long, and nearly three-quarters of an inch broad. Dr. Thurnam, who has seen it, pronounces it to be somewhat larger than those of the same unbarbed type found by him in the Wiltshire barrows.

The two small compartments in to which the passage itself is divided were filled up to the height of eighteen inches with charred bones, broken into small fragments. On the top of these, in the first chamber, a piece of bent bone, tooled and rounded at one end, and nine inches in length, was found to be silicitied.

In the second chamber, and also on the top of the charred bones which filled the compartment, a roughly finished bone dagger was found, seven inches long and nearly an inch broad at the extremity of the handle, its widest part.

Nearly covering the entire floor in each compartment rested a thin flag, vinderneath whicli were found splinters of burned bones, intermixed with small stones and pieces of charcoal.

Six of the chamber stones here are inscribed.

Kerbstone at Cairn S, Loughcrew
Kerbstones at Cairn S.

Conwell described his excavations:

'Immediately outside the entrance of the passage was found a perfect specimen of a leaf-shaped arrowhead, in white flint, an inch and a half long, and nearly three-quarters of an inch broad.'

Two septa of the passage

'were filled up to the height of eighteen inches with charred bones, broken into small fragments.'

What appear from the descriptions to be two bone pins were found, one on top of the bones in each of these compartments.

View from Cairn S.
Looking out from the left recess within Cairn S, the light shows a series of solar symbols on the orthostat to the right.

Coffey records that Rotherham searched for the stones of the right arm of the chamber in August 1892, but that he found no trace of them.

'On picking over the floor of the chambers in this cairn, in June 1892, we found a well-shaped stone pendant; several fragments of an urn, or urns, three small flakes of flint, showing evidence of fire; a short portion of what might have been a stout bone pin, with a longitudinal groove along one side - this object had been burnt almost to the consistency of porcelain; many pieces of burnt bones, and several human teeth, some strongly marked by fire, others showing no trace of fire. A portion of a bone pin was subsequently found by Mr. Rotherham.'

(Herity, 1974).

Cairn S.
Cairn S, the ring of stones to the left, and Cairn T, the central monumet on this hill.