Knocknarea Cairn, County Sligo

Knocknarea Cairn, County Sligo

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Knocknarea is a large hill west of Sligo town in County Sligo, Republic of Ireland. The 327 m (1,073 ft) high limestone hill is visually striking, as it is monolithic in appearance and stands in a prominent position on the Cúil Irra peninsula between the bays of Sligo and Ballysadare. At the summit is a large mound (or cairn) of loose stones. Although it has not been excavated, it is believed to conceal a Neolithic passage tomb.

This cairn, known as Misgaun Maeve, is 10m high and 55m across at the base. It probably covers a passage tomb similar to those at Carrowkeel and in the Boyne valley. It would have been built by Neolithic peoples about 3000 BC. Around the cairn there are a number of other tombs, probably of the same period, in varying states of destruction. Its name suggests that it was built for Maeve, the Iron Age queen of Connacht, but any association with her is probably legendary.

About 400m NE of the cairn, near a deep depression, are several circular and oval enclosures. Three were excavated in the '80s, and the foundations of huts whose roofs of thatch or turf had been supported on wooden poles, hundreds of flint and chert scrapers and arrowheads, polished stone axes, and some pieces of pottery were found. These sites were in use about 4300 years ago. From the SW end of the mountain-top there is a breathtaking view onto the Ballisodare Bay and the middens at Cullenamore

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