Dating from the 3rd millennium, the Creevykeel Court Cairn was one of the first sites of its kind to be excavated in Ireland. The court cairn is called such because, in addition to several interior structures, a large court yard forms the entrance and central passage. Within the cairn (mound of stones) itself are a wedge-shaped tomb, a side chamber called a cist (common in the Stone Age), and even an Iron Age smelting pot-for use by blacksmiths. An Iron Age smithy pot in a Stone Age monument is quite unusual for a megalithic structure.
The shapes of the pillar stones are unique, as well. Many archaeologists refer to the stones and male and female, the males being the cylindrical pillars; the females being the broader, smoother stones having a diamond like shape.
Creevykeel is an enormous stone work with interior cells that hail amazing feats of engineering. Stone lintels and corbels, wedges, and shims-quite common in woodworking-are found here, deftly carved in stone. Huge boulders moved within an inches' precision form the capstone, and tightly laid kerbstones form a perfectly round outer perimeter.
Six thousand years ago, these primitive builders showed remarkable skill in designing, engineering, and creating structures that could withstand ages, literally, of both elemental and man-made disturbance. Hardly primitive by any standard, these builders were master craftsmen. Creevykeel Court Cairn is one of those places that will take you places!
Small road sign. Open all year. No admission. Bring your camera.
How to get there:
From Dublin: N4 to Sligo Town. N15 22km to Cliffoney. Continue 2km to sign and car park on right.
From Belfast: A6 to Derry. A5/N15 to 11km South of Bundoran. Sign in car park on left, 2km before Cliffoney.
Written by Joy Davis - Summer of Travel 2007