South Armagh and Down Borders

Sunday 4 May

An investigation was made into some sites near Slieve Gullion and the Armagh- Down borders. At Aghmakane (J021252) the remains of a chambered tomb consist of two large standing stones about 4m high by 1m by 30cm, and at least four other stones about 1m square. It could be a court tomb with the entrance in the west. The larger stones may be part of the southern arm of the court and the smaller stones may be the remains of a single chamber. It is set at the edge of a small ruined cashel the walls of which are about 1m high maximum. Just inside the cashel are a number of large slabs which may be part of the tomb. The diameter is about 30m and it is greatly overgrown with whin and thorn.

Ballard Standing Stone (J016234) is about 1.5m high by 50cm thick and tapering. It has rounded edges and leans slightly to the south. At the north edge, about 30cm from the top, is a slight shoulder. Close to the stone are a number of low round stone structures, possibly stands for hay ricks.

Ballykeel Dolmen (H995213) is a fine tripod structure. The portal stones are well matched and are about 1.6m high. The doorstone is about 1m high and the backstone is about 1.2m high. There is a single capstone about 3m long by 2m wide at the front and tapering. It is about 40cm thick. The dolmen sits at the south end of a low cairn of which there are considerable remains.

At Ballykeel Bridge (H994215) there are the remains of two mills. To the north is a roofless scutch-mill within which are the remains of six sets of scutching blades. These were driven by a turbine which is intact outside the south wall of the mill. The flume and headrace are intact also as is the mill dam. However all the sluice gates are fragmentary. The building to the south of the scutch-mill was apparently a corn-mill with an external wheel. The building has been enlarged to form part of a modern store and there is no trace of the wheel.

A short distance to the north (H995218) of the mills are the ruins of a chambered tomb. Three stones form part of a chamber. One stone is about 2m long by 30cm thick and less than 1m high. The other stones are about 1m long. The tomb is built into a field boundary.

The cairn at Clonlum (J046206) is a round structure about 9m diameter and less than 1m high. In the middle is a single-chambered tomb about 1.5m by 1m and 1m deep. The capstone is displaces and broken and would have been about 2m by 1.5m maximum. A standing stone just outside the chamber may have been part of an antechamber. To the north, also in Clonlum (J045213), is a large ruinous court-tomb. The gallery is about 8m long and there is at least one capstone about 2m by 2m. The entrance to the gallery is well defined but there are no apparent divisions within it. The court is fragmentary with the western arm being more complete. Just outside this arm is a small roofless chamber about 1.5m by 1m by 1m. There are considerable remains of a low cairn to the east and good traces of a kerb. The cairn may be 20m diameter.

Ballymacdermot Court Tomb (J066240) is a fine example of this type of monument. The court to the north is about 7m wide and 5m deep. The gallery has two, burial chambers and an antechamber, the total length being about 6m. The chambers are about 1.5m wide and 1m high. There are some traces of corbels, particularly on the east side and there is possibly a small displaced capstone. The divisions between the chambers are very clear. The tomb is set within a long cairn considerable amounts of which remain.

The two churches at Killevy (J040220) are of different dates. They are joined end to end to form one long range of buildings. The east church is the younger and has a large east window outside of which are two weathered masks. There are doorways in the north and south walls. Inside the church, beside the west wall, is a cross-shaped stone and a stone with a ring-headed cross in low relief. There is a small ambry in the south wall. The west church is older and has a small round-headed east window. The west doorway has a massive lintel and a draw-bar socket. In the south wall is a low doorway now blocked by a stone basin. This led to a square tower at the south-west corner. Only the base of this tower remains. There are two ambries in the east wall of the church. The graves in the churchyard are mainly 19th century and modern.

Lisseraw Rath (J022279) is about 40m diameter and it is fairly intact. The defences on the north and east are missing but elsewhere there is an inner bank, a massive ditch and an outer bank. The ditch may be about 3m wide in places and the total height from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the inner bank may be 5m. A rath in Drumilly (J010278) is circular with a straight east edge. There is a good inner bank up to 1.5m high and traces of a shallow ditch. There is no outer bank.

The chambered tomb at Eshwary (J027286) is fragmentary. There are two standing stones less than 2m high and 50cm wide. Between them lies a third stone of similar dimensions, forming an alignment N - S approximately. A similar fourth stone lies a short distance to the east.

Lissummon Railway Tunnel (J052348) was investigated. The west end was located and entered. The tunnel is perfectly straight and the east end may be seen approximately 1600m away. The tunnel appears to be in very good condition and clear of debris. However due to lack of time and light it was not fully inspected. The railway was closed in 1955.

A number of raths were visited or noted. Near Kennedy Villas the rath (J092368) is about 35m diameter with a good paved entrance in the east. The bank is about 1m high maximum and missing in places. There are no traces of an outer bank or ditch. The rath on Greenan Road (J092405) is about 43m diameter with a good bank on the north and south up to 2m high. There are traces of a ditch which may be 2m wide in the north and west. In the west the total height of bank and ditch may be 5m. A rath in the south (J093396) was viewed from a distance. It appears to be a tree-lined platform. Lisnagonnell Rath (J100398) is a greatly overgrown platform about 30m diameter and 1m high. There are traces of a bank and some remains of a ditch on the west side.

A standing stone (J115388) was inspected. It is about 1.5m high by 1m square and leans slightly to the north. There is a slight shoulder about 40cm from the top. The surface has a number of large depressions including one about 20cm by 15cm on the north side.