‘A clear pure air pervades the scene,
In loneliness and awe secure;
Meet spot to sepulchre a Queen
Who in her life was pure
Here, far from camp and chase removed,
Apart in Nature’s quiet room,
The music that alive she loved
Shall cheer her in the tomb’.
Aideen’s Grave – Samuel Ferguson, ca 1864
Aideen’s Grave is a beautiful collapsed monolithic portal tomb in the planted woods and rhododendron at Howth Demesne, on the north side of Howth Head. The tomb dates to around 2,500 BC and comprises of a two portal stones around 2.5 metres in height, a collapsed doorstone, and a colossal roofstone measuring 5 metres, by 4, and 2 metres in depth. The roofstone still rests on the upper edge of the portals, above the collapsed chamber.
According to Irish legend Aideen was the daughter of Aenghus, the ruler of Howth (Beann Éadair) in the 3rd century, who was married to Oscar, the son of Oisín of the Fianna. Oscar was slain in the Battle of Gowra in 284AD and was entombed in a rath on the field of battle, Aideen died of grief and was buried at this site, and the tomb erected in her honour under a heaped cairn. Another legend associated with the site relates to non other than Fionn McCumhaill who tossed the stones from the Bog of Allen in Kildare all the way to Howth during a game pitch and toss. However as historically inaccurate as both are I prefer the former and will end with the words of the great Irish poet and antiquarian Samuel Ferguson.
‘They heaved the stone; they heap’d the cairn:
Said Ossian “In a queenly grave
We leave her, ‘mong her fields of fern
Between the cliff and wave’
GPS: 53.37942, -6.08058