Loughcrew Cairns, County Meath
In a landscape of inspiring beauty and intriguing history, the cairns at Loughcrew form the largest complex of passage graves in Ireland. The Cairns are megalithic structures originally built about 4000 bc as burial chambers. The cairns are in two groups; Carnbane West, about 15 cairns, including Cairn L which is roofed and contains superb symbolic carvings in good condition. This group is some 2km walk from the Car Park on gently sloping ground. Carnbane East includes Cairn T, also roofed and with excellent engravings, and is a shorter but steeper walk.The climb to Cairn T is very steep and visitors are asked to wear suitable footwear and to be careful. There is no access for visitors in wheelchairs.
Loughcrew is rich in historical, archaeological, religious and natural interest. One of ancient Ireland's major roads passes through Loughcrew, crossing the great Road of the Chariots nearby. The lakes abound with cranógs and the drumlins are topped with innumerable motte and bailey forts. The Loughcrew Cairns are perhaps the oldest calendar known, and may even be the world's oldest existing dwellings.
The illumination of the passage and chamber at the winter solstice sunrise in Newgrange is world famous. Less well known is the Equinox illumination at sunrise in Cairn T at Loughcrew. The backstone of the chamber is illuminated by a beam of light at sunrise on the spring and Autumnal Equinoxes. The sun light is shaped by the stones of the entrance and passage and descends the backstone while moving from left to the right illuminating the solar symbols.
Take a walk through Loughcrew Gardens and you will walk through centuries of garden and landscape fantasy. The central area of approximately six acres includes a lime avenue, extensive lawns and terraces, magnificent herbaceous border and physic border. Within the gardens stand a medieval mote and St. Oliver Plunkett's family church and Tower House. A host of enchanting features are displayed in a setting steeped in atmosphere and history.
Car and coach park, toilets, tearoom, book and gift shop, photographic display and education area. Wheelchair access in the Centre (and Gardens) is excellent. There is also wi-fi available in the Coffee Shop.
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