The Discovery of the Carrowkeel Passage Tomb Cemetery


It was not until 1896 that the full significance of the cairns at Carrowkeel, Co. Sligo were first realised.


Google Earth image of some of the tombs in the Carrowkeel Passage Tomb cemetery.

Carrowkeel, Co. Sligo is one of the four large Neolithic Passage Tomb Cemeteries in Ireland that include Carrowmore, Co. Sligo and Loughcrew and Brugh na Bóinne Co. Meath. It is situated in the Bricklieve Mountains of southern Sligo and consists of 14 Passage Tombs. The first published mention of the Carrowkeel cemetery was in in 1854 when the Rev. Constantine Cosgrave of Keash, Co. Sligo wrote to the newly formed Kilkenny and South-east Archaeological Society regarding a number of large stone monuments in the Bricklieves that he had noticed in 1853. But it was not until 1896 when Naturalist Robert Loyd Praeger was carrying out a botanical survey of the Bricklieve Mountains that the full significance of Passage Tomb cemetery was realised. Praeger was able to enter one of the tombs and noted artefacts and animal and human bones were still present. Then between April and October 1911 8 of the Tombs were excavated and planned in a hasty manner by Praeger and two archaeologists R.A. S. Macalister and E.C.R. Armstrong. However, as a result of this work the Carrowkeel tombs were identified as being part of the same culture as the tombs at Carrowmore and Brugh na Bóinne.

Further Reading
R.A. S. Macalister, E.C.R. Armstrong and R. Praeger 1911-12. Report on the exploration of Bronze-Age carns on Carrowkeel Mountain, Co. Sligo. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 29C, 311-47.

 
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