Haroldstown Dolmen, Carlow, Ireland

Situated on the banks of the Derren River, the Haroldstown Dolmen has quite rightly been referred to as one of Ireland’s finest examples of a Portal Tomb. As you make your way across Acaun bridge and the Dolmen comes into view its appearance is striking, looking both incredibly robust and strong but also beautiful and enchanting. The two tilted capstones which form the long ‘roof’ measure 4x3metres and 3×2.5metres and give an unusual look to this Tomb. The Dolmen is tall enough to stand in, measuring around 2 metres or more in height. The capstones are supported by ten vertical stones, but it does appear that another one or two may have been removed for access during its 5,000 or more year life. It has been reported that during the 1840s a family used the tomb as a makeshift dwelling, which does sound shocking considering its size, though the more books I have read written during the 1800s this seems like it would have been preferable to some of the roadside shacks our ancestors were unfortunate enough to inhabit. At the time the family would have filled in the gaps between the stones with a wattle and daub mix. I have also found a reference to the stone in the Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society and Surrounding Districts written in 1905, under a section titled ‘County Wicklow Archaeological Notes Around Kiltegan’ by C Drury,

“The Stone House” is close to Acaun Bridge, in the field on the east of the river, below the bridge. The stone which forms the roof of the cromlech is about 14 feet in length, and was said to have been thrown by a giant, the mark of whose hand is still to be seen on the under side.”

Whether a giant built it or not remains to be seen but one thing is for certain the Haroldstown Dolmen is definitely worth a visit!

GPS: 52.8451, -6.66384

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