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A megalithic capstone at Wardhouse.
The huge capstone of a wedge-shaped megalithic chamber, part of a complex at Wardhouse in County Leitrim. The monuments are close to a famous ancient boundry between Ulster and Connaught, where the river Drowse marks the modern border with County Donegal.


Near Tullaghan in County Leitrim, an interesting complex of monuments known as Wardhouse is found close to the Atlantic shore. The remains of a possible four megalithic chambers, standing stones, and perhaps a barrow are found in a field overlooking the sea.

The land is privately owned, and visiting the monuments is not encouraged: many Irish landowners still fear being sued, should an accident befall a megalith hunter. The megaliths consist of a ruined court cairn, two wedges, and a monument of uncertain type. It is not unusual to find different types of megaliths clustered so closely together.

View to the north from Wardhouse.
One of the ruined monuments at Wardhouse, looking north across Donegal Bay to the Great Gap at Barnas Mor.

This is an area that has suffered badly under the Celtic Tiger era. Close by are seven or eight slabs, the remains of a wedge cairn. The property around these ancient megaliths has all been developed, and now the monuments are surrounded by an estate of ugly and often unfinished holiday homes.

Many megalithic monuments were dismantled and reused to build field walls as part of estate improvements and land clearances in the period between 1800 and 1840. The industrial revolution and modern farming ideas also contributed to the loss of many monuments.

A ruined megalithic monument at Tullaghan.
Looking into the ruined doorway of the court cairn at Wardhouse. Beyond in the next field, the roof slab of a wedge monument can be seen. Other monuments lie in the nearby fields, which run down to the sea.

Megalithic Clusters

It is not too common to find groups of different types of megalithic chambers grouped together. The monuments may well be the remains of a group of court tombs, with some later wedge monuments. The different types of monuments were most likely built by differing groups of neolithic people. There is a cluster of Carrowmore style monuments further up the coast at Finner, while the closest group of Court style monuments is found at Cliffoney to the south.

Wardhouse, OSI website link.
The megaliths at Wardhouse, left and Magheracar, right. The river Drowse marks the County border. Map from the OSI website.

Two monuments, a passage grave chamber and a wedge are found a short distance to the north at Magheracar, close to the old border between Counties Donegal and Leitrim.

Ruined entrance into a megalithic chamber.
Ruined entrance into a megalithic chamber.

The Wardhouse megaliths are located within a very beautiful section of the coast between the rivers Duff and Drowse, and not far from the Duff waterfall. The monuments are on private land, and you must seek the owners permission before visiting the sites.

Court chamber at Wardhouse.
The gallery or chamber of one of the ruined court cairns at the Wardhouse megalithic complex.