1972:0011 - CROAGHBEG, Donegal

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Donegal Site name: CROAGHBEG

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number:

Author: Mr. L.N.W. Flanagan, Dept of Antiquities, Ulster Museum

Site type: Court Cairn

ITM: E 564859m, N 874797m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.620183, -8.544099

Excavation this year was mainly directed to the solving of problems left over from previous years’ excavations and to the final tidying up of the site. In the event the rear of the cairn, badly eroded though it undoubtedly was, was satisfactorily established; the cairn—edge on both south and north was revealed in extenso, with one or two small gaps where destruction had been complete. The eastern end, or front, of the cairn was established, though a little further work remains to be done on the entrance.

One interesting feature was revealed in the course of the excavation. Whereas in 1971 it had been considered that excavation of the forecourt had been virtually complete, with the bases of the orthostats on the south side revealed, in 1972 it transpired that to compensate for the steepness and narrowness of the ridge on which the cairn was built, the forecourt on the south side had been built up: the orthostats whose bases had been revealed in 1971 were, in fact, supported on several courses of random rubble. This discovery, interesting though it was, delayed progress considerably, and prevented finalisation of clearance at the east end.

Although perhaps another week’s work will be necessary totally to finish excavation of this site, one conclusion that is inexorably to be drawn is that a steep, narrow ridge is about the worst possible site for a Court Cairn, both for builders and excavators! The steepness of slope made it necessary for the builders to indulge in some really gimcrack building, doomed to collapse almost within minutes of building; for the excavator it made surveying exceedingly long—winded a process.