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This is set in one of the chancel windows—


There are also some curiously late survivals of interlaced crosses.

The Castle or "Court," as it is locally called, is a massive and picturesque structure, with shattered enclosures and lofty gabled keep. Note the cruciform arrow-slits in the battlements. It was originally built in 1211 by King John, or, as other authorities say, by Pierce de Bermingham, 1238. There is an illustration and ground plan in "Grose," vol. i., plates 28 and 29. It has a double vault supported on pillars, and two windows with rich capitals in the upper room.

Town Waixs.—A great part of the ancient wall still exists, though much of the enclosed space is occupied by demesne and gardens. The ramparts have lofty, slender, round towers at the salient points, and are surrounded by a moat once filled by a stream, long since diverted.

The towers and gates, as marked on the Ordnance Survey map, commencing at the gate spanning the road from the railway station, and going westward, are—North gate; a tower; Spiddle gate, looking N.W.; three towers; Swan gate, looking S.W. ; tower; angle of wall; a tower at S.E. corner; Laragh gate, near Dominican Friary; the castle; and Briton's gate, looking northward.

Monday, 5th August, 1895.

On Monday, the 5th August, 1895, about fifty Members of the Society
left Amiens-street Terminus, Dublin, by the 9 o'clock, a.m., train for
Oldcastle, tickets, at greatly reduced fares, having been given by the
Great Northern Railway Company.

A couple of miles beyond Kells attention was called to the holy well of St. Kieran, overshadowed by a very old ash-tree immediately adjoining the railway on the left, and to the termon crosses, a short distance away on the right of the line.

Arriving in Oldcastle at 12 o'clock, Mr. J. H. Moore, Son. Local Secretary, had provided cars, on which the party was conveyed to Patrickstown, where, at the eastern end of the Loughcrew hills, the road crosses the ridge. At the highest point of the road the cars were left, and the party, conducted by Mr. George Coffey, entered on the hill side. Just inside the gate is the remnant of a late cross; near it is an upright stone, said to mark the site of a battle. Ascending the hill the rain commenced, and settled into a steady downpour, which continued during our visit.

The ridge consists of three principal hills, in a line nearly east and west. The eastern, or Patrickstown, hill, has had a large cairn on its top, but the stones of which it was formed have been removed. Passing this point, and walking westward, skirting a wood, we reach the site of a cairn—that marked x on the plan in Mr. Conwell's "Tomb of Ollamh Fodhla." The smaller stones have been removed here also, but one large block retains traces of scribings now much defaced by exposure.

A descent, still westward, followed by a sharp rise, leads to the summit of the central and highest hill, called Slieve-na-Caillighe (marked Carnbane East, on the Ordnance Map). On the highest point, 900 feet above the sea, is the great cairn, marked T by Conwell, and which he claimed to have identified as the tomb of Ollamh Fodhla. The chambers in this cairn, and the passage to them, contain a number of stones covered with characteristic decoration. An example of these is figured at p. 309. On the north side of the cairn is a stone rudely formed as a seat, called the "Hag's Chair." Round this great cairn are a number of smaller ones. One of these to the south-west, indicated as Kj by Conwell, was recently investigated by Mr. Rotherham (see p. 311). Where it had been opened a large quantity of bone fragments were to be seen.

Passing westward, the third hill (the true Carnbane) possesses an extraordinary number of cairns. That marked L by Conwell has many figured stones, one of which is shown at p. 307.

The party now descended to the grounds of Loughcrew House. In the well-kept garden here are two underground chambers, which were visited.

All were then received and hospitably entertained in Loughcrew House, the seat of J. L. Naper, Esq., and most considerate kindness was shown by Mrs. Naper, in providing for the comfort of the ladies after their walk through the rain. After tea the cars were again taken to Oldcastle, where special arrangements had been made to enable the party to leave at 6.15 for Dublin.


To the north-west of county Meath, about two miles distant from Oldcastle, on the estate of Mr. Naper, of Lough crew, is a small range of hills, extending two miles east and west, of which the highest point, called Car n Bawn, or Slieve-na-Caillighe, rises 904 feet above sea level, the surrounding country averaging about 300 feet. Being the highest eminence in Meath, it affords an extensive prospect over widespread limestone plains, stretching east and west across the centre of Ireland, and the Lower Silurian grits, slaty rocks that extend northwards round Lough Ramor, the ridge constituting the line of junction of these two systems of rock. On a clear day the ranges of mountains above Carlingford on the east coast, and near Sligo in the far west, become visible from its summit, and it is stated that no less than eighteen out of thirty-two counties in Ireland may be pointed out on the horizon.

The late Dr. O'Donovan, in a letter written from Kells in 1836, gives the following legendary tale:—

"There are three hills about a mile asunder, having three heaps of stones on their summits. A famous hag of antiquity called Cailleagh Bheartha (Calliagh Vera) came from the north to perform a magical feat in this neighbourhood, by which she would obtain great power if she succeeded. She took an apronf ul of stones, and dropped a cairn on Carnbane, then jumped to the summit of Slieve-na-Cally, a mile distant, and dropped a second cairn of stones there. From this she leaped another mile, and dropped another cairn. If she could make another successful leap, and drop a fourth cairn, her magical feat would be accomplished, but in giving the jump she fell, and broke her neck, in the townland of Patrickstown, parish of Diamor. Here she was buried, and her grave was to be seen not many years past in a field called cut a mhota {i.e. back of the moat). She is now a 'banshee,' and is mentioned in some Irish elegies. 'On one occasion she turned Fin Mac Cooil into an old man.'"

The "scribed stones" found in the cairns of Slieve-na-Caillighe form the most extensive series of such remains in Western Europe. Some stones similarly marked are found imbedded in the well-known mounds of Dowth and New Grange. Mr. "Wakeman discovered two stones in a so-called " giant's grave" at Knockmany, Co. Tyrone, which are figured and described in vol. iv., 4th series of our Journal, and in the Newry

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Magazine, 1816. Mr. John Bell mentions a very large cromlech on Killion Hill, near Dundalk, the interior of which shows sculpturings; also at Vicar's Cairn, about 3 miles from Armagh (which was enclosed

in a circle that consisted of 55 unhewn flat-stones fixed in the earth, and measured 380 feet in circumference), he found on the edge of one of the stones seven concentric circles carved in regular grooves. These, with some scribed stones at Clover Hill, Co. Sligo, that do not appear to be of the same age or character, are, I think, the entire number yet noticed in Ireland. It is unfortunate that no drawings or description is preserved of Mr. Bell's observations, which appear to have escaped the notice they deserve.

At Slieve-na-Caillighe, in addition to seventeen cairns, in which sculptured stones have not been noticed, there are eleven cairns with sculpturings. The cairns have been designated by letters in the Papers published by Mr. Con well, and that by Dr. Frazer, in the Transaction*

of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries :—

Cairn F has 7 stones with scribings.

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Il !,
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l> II

This (cairn L) is one of the most important of the series; it is 45 yards across, surrounded by forty-two large stones laid on edge, varying from 6 to 12 feet in length, and from 3 to 4 feet high. Its aperture was shown by the curving inwards of its circumference for 10 yards in length, bearing E. 20° S. Its roof had been formed of large overlapping stones, similar to the domed arrangement of the great chamber at New Grange, the roofing rising to about 12 feet above the level of the chamber. The entrance passage was 1 foot 10 inches wide at its commencement, increasing to upwards of 3 feet in its middle part, and again contracting when it terminated in a chamber. It was 12 feet long, and the entire measurement to the extremity of the western chamber was 29 feet. This chamber contained seven separate cists, each nearly square. On the floor of the passage, extending into the central chamber, was a large flagstone, 8 feet 9 inches long, 3 feet 6 inches broad, and 6 inches thick, which is supposed to have been used for cremation; and on the floor of the second chamber on the north side of the cairn was a stone slab, hollowed into a basin to a depth of 3i inches. This slab measured 2 feet 11 inches by 2 feet broad; underneath it lay fragments of burned bones, and of human teeth.

Opposite this, in chamber 5, was another stone basin of oval form, and of very large size, being 5 feet 9 inches long; underneath this also were numerous fragments of charred bone, and many teeth.

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