Tirnony Portal Tomb, Derry, Ireland

Tirnony Portal Tomb stands picturesquely at the side of a small back road just north of the town of Maghera in county Derry. The single chamber is almost 3 metres in length and 1.5 in width, with a mammoth capstone measuring 2.8×1.4m resting on two portal stones at its entrance and a further six to its rear. A single flanker stone stands outside the tomb and may indicate the existence of an early court entrance. In 2010 the massive capstone shifted and collapsed due to the disturbance of the roots of a nearby tree and this led to an excavation prior to repair. The investigation found that this tomb was not build in a single phase and also that its ritual use continued down through the ages. There were discoveries of flint and Neolithic pottery but also other items, such as an early medieval blue glass bead, and bone were found. The bead is of particular interest as it may have been put there ritually rather than as a chance occurrence and obviously at a much later date. A similar bead has been found at excavations at Aughnaskeagh Portal Tomb in county Down. Some folklore suggest that these blue glass beads were an offering to sore eyes and a letter written in 1699 by Edward Lhywd, Keeper of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, suggested, after finding similar glass beads, that ‘The Snail-stone is a small hollow cilinder of blue glass, comprised of four or five amulets; so that as to form and size it resembles a midling Entrochus. This, amongst others of its mysterious virtues, cures sore eyes”.
The reasons behind the bead or the other rituals at these sites will always be vague however Tirnony is an easy and surprisingly quiet stop for anyone who appreciates convenience!

GPS: 54.85624, -6.69212

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