On Thursday, July 20, the two archaeologists loaded up a small rental car with equipment and drove off to Sligo to visit the megalithic art at Carrowmore and Carrowkeel. The art on the central monument at Carrowmore, Listoghil, had been mentioned as early as 1883; however, its existence was doubted until it was recognised in 1993 from a photograph.
Of course, it was raining during our visit and we spent most of our time trying to cover the equipment with umbrellas or plastic to make sure it was safe. We were able to record the capstone of the monument during a break in the rain. Unfortunately, it was too difficult for us to reach the interior of the orthostat featuring art and properly hold the Kinect, so we had to move on to the next site.
We arrived at Carrowkeel, and first did some scouting around to figure out the best path to forge to the top to visit Cairn B. It is located on a different outcrop than the main cluster of tombs that are easily accessible. We decided on the quickest—and least possibility of getting lost—option of working our way directly up the cliff. It was a bit of a scramble at first. Then we had to work our way through some dense vegetation over our heads, and keep our ankles out of bog holes. Eventually, we made it to the top and went straight to work, because we did not want to have to hike back down in the storm we could see gathering in the distance.
This cairn is rather small inside, similar to Mound of the Hostages at Tara. It has some loose stones in the interior that have been messed with, one looks like it may have been a sill stone. If you look for images on the internet you can see these configured at one point as a bench. They were pretty strewn about on our visit. One of these supposedly has a small piece of art on it, but we were unable to identify it and it may have been rubbed off. For orthostat 5, we took a few photos with the light in different positions to figure out which angle may be best to record. Then, set up and recorded orthostat 5, even making two recordings of it to be sure we had a backup (earlier we had some computer issues where files weren’t saving properly). Then we hurried back down the cliff in the rain before the rougher part of the storm approached.
This is where we share the bad news. While at our bed and breakfast, we started to generate the 3D models to see if we could identify the art on the stones. Only to be gutted when we could not find the Carrowkeel folder in Results folder or after completing a search from the terminal. It did not save! (This is a glitch we are trying to recreate in the office and correct.) We checked the weather and thought about possibly hiking up again, but it would not have been safe. We could not even see Carrowkeel through the storm. At the very least, we have photos of the art on orthostat 5 and a photogrammetric model (seen below).
Listoghil (the art is on the front of the capstone)
Knocknarea from Carrowmore
A selfie (Jordan and Patricia) to commemorate surviving the hike
Entrance to Carrowkeel Cairn B
The loose stones in Cairn B
One of the lighting angle tests where the art is visible
One of the more fun lighting angles made the art look like a frog face
Jordan crawling out of the small entrance to Cairn B
Carrowkeel orthostat 5 art, model from photogrammetry
Burenhult, G., 1980. The Archaeological Excavations at Carrowmore Co. Sligo, Ireland: Excavations Seasons: 1977-79. G. Burenhults förlag (IS), Burenhult, G..
Macalister, R.A.S., Armstrong, E.C.R. and Praeger, R.L., 1911. Report on the exploration of Bronze-Age carns on Carrowkeel Mountain, Co. Sligo. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, 29, pp.311-347.
Information on the art:
Hensey, R. and Robin, G., 2011. MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: NEW RECORDINGS OF MEGALITHIC ART IN NORTH‐WEST IRELAND. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 30(2), pp.109-130.
Notes on visiting Carrowmore:
Carrowmore is operated by the OPW and has a visitor centre. It is located just off the main road and is around €5 to enter. More information can be found on their site.
Notes on visiting Carrowkeel:
Some of the cairns of the Carrowkeel complex are easy to access via a short hike. However, Cairn B is quite difficult to get to, and we cannot recommend visiting it for safety reasons. There are no trails to this cairn and there are areas where you are on steep and unsteady ground as well as walking through plants over your head.