Banner: Knocknarea sunset
A map of the main group of neolithic monuments at Moytura
A map of the main group of neolithic monuments at Moytura on the east side of Lough Arrow.

The monuments at Moytura

The ridge of Moytura on the east side of Lough Arrow has a fine selection of megalithic monuments, at least 14 have been recorded by the megalithic survey. Between Heapstown Cairn and the Stuckera stone near Kilmactranny, which are connected by a walking trail, fine examples of all the different types of monument known in Ireland can be seen, located in an absolutely stunning landscape.

Heapstown Cairn by Breanger, 1779.
Heapstown Cairn by Breanger, 1779.

Neolithic cairns are found at Heapstown and Shee Lugh, Heapstown is unexcavated and is likely to have an unopened chamber. Shee Lugh was dug by a local landlady in the last century, who left the mound in a mess, and it could do with excavation. One of the largest dolmens in Ireland, the Labby Rock has a capstone weighing an estimated 70 tons. It is found in the valley just north of the highest part of the ridge of Moytura, capped by the cairn Shee Lugh.

There are the remains of a court cairn further to the south, which has one of the longest gallerys in Ireland and also has an unusual double entrance. There is another court cairn (the cairn has mostly disappeared) in Treanmore, further south again, which is one of only a few known exapmles of a transeptal, or cross-shaped chamber, more commonly found in the round passage cairns such as at Carrowkeel.

Shee Lugh
A Moytura sunset: summer solstice viewed from Shee Lugh. The sun is dropping behind Knocknarea.

There are several wedge monuments in the area many of which are quite ruined, but there is a well preserved example in the townland of Barroe not far to the south of Shee Lugh. This wedge opens towards Kesh Corran in the northwest, about 12 km away. Wedges are thought to belong to the bronze age and in general are considered to be a thousand or so years younger then the other three main types on megalith.

the Eglone
Wakeman'swatercolour of the Eglone, a massive erratic standing stone at Highwood village. The stone was said to have been placed here by the Dagda during the Battle of Moytura. Others said it is a petrified giant.

A few the sites were visited by antiquarians. Beranger sketched and measured an unquarried Heapstown cairn. Petrie, the godfather of Irish archaeology, also sketched the unquarried Heap and a dolmen which has collapsed and been removed. Wakemann sketched Heapstown in 1877 and by this time Heapstown was being used as a quarry. He also did two sketches of the Labby Rock. Wood-Martin also visited Moytura, and undertook a few excavations in the 1880's. Fr James Sharkey, the local parish priest published a local history of the Battle of Moytura in 1927.

The Labby Rock
The Labby Rock, a massive portal dolmen on the mythical battlefield of Moytura, is said to be the grave of Nuada of the Silver Arm.

There are fourteen neolithic monuments listed by the Megalithic Survey on the east shore of Lough Arrow, several of which are so damaged that they are unclassified. There is a drawing by George Petrie of a destroyed dolmen.

Moytura wedge monument
Another of the Moytura wedge monuments. This megalith is quite well preserved and is found on the Historical Trail about halfway between Shee Lugh and the Moytura court cairn. The monument is oriented to the northwest, and aligns on the cairn on top of Kesh Corran in the Bricklieve Mountains.