Situated on high ground overlooking Lough Arrow in the Bricklieve mountain range, close to the south County Sligo village of Castlebaldwin. Carrowkeel Neolithic Passage Tomb Cemetery (co-ordinates 54.05700 -8.37950) is one of the “big four” passage tomb cemetaries in Ireland, the other three are the Br na Binne complex in County Meath, which features Knowth, Dowth and the well-known Newgrange Neolithic mounds, Lough Crew, near Oldcastle in County Meath and Carrowmore 3 miles from Sligo Town).
Carrowkeel Neolithic Passage Tomb Cemetery comprises of 14 passage tombs spread over a fairly large area, which have been dated at between 5400 and 5100 years old, so that they predate Egypt‘s Pyramids by 500-800 years.
Many of the tombs are fairly complete and undisturbed, mainly because of their remote location and that it is a slightly hard place to get to, in some of the tombs, fragments of human bone can still be seen.
The tombs were opened in 1911 by R.A.S. Macalister accompanied by Robert Lloyd Praeger and Edmund Clarence Richard Armstrong. Although Macalister was acquainted with contemporary archaeological methods, he acted very hastily at Carrowkeel and his removal and disturbance of the chamber floors have hampered archeological investigators who have followed him.
If you wish to visit Carrowkeel, take the N4 south from Sligo for about 15 miles, as far as Castlebaldwin, then turn right onto the road signposted for Ballymote, from then onwards you must follow the Brown Creevykeel Passage Tomb signposts. When you get to the car park its a 20 minute walk up to the cairns, but it’s worth the effort.
Visitors to the site are asked not to climb on the cairns, or damage the monuments in any way, and not to take anything in or out of these ancient tombs. Some parts of the site contain deep crevices, holes and cliff faces.
This is a simple site, there is no visitor center, no tea shop, no admission fee — nothing but ancient mystery – enjoy!
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