Hidden away amidst the rolling, pastoral landscape of County Carlow lurks a sleeping giant. A hulking, beast-like structure wrought of impossibly large stones, balanced so precisely that they have stood for over 5000 years. From a distance you could be forgiven for mistaking this huge megalith for some great mythical beast, but it’s actually the majestic Brownshill Dolmen.
Ireland’s Largest Dolmen
This imposing Neolithic structure is in possession of a granite capstone that weighs over 100 tonnes, making it one of the largest Dolmens in Europe. Supporting the capstone are two upright portal stones that sit either side of the gate stone, while the back of the monument is supported by another smaller boulder. How it was constructed so long ago remains uncertain, but the builders likely used a combination of earthen ramps, wooden rollers, and ropes to lift the stones in place.
A Giant Mystery
Like so many of our ancient monuments, it’s impossible to know for sure what the exact reason was for its construction. However, we can make a good guess that it was likely for burial purposes, or maybe even to show off the status of the people that had it built. Whatever the reason, it’s an absolutely amazing link between us and the people of prehistoric Ireland.
Easy to Access
One of the more peaceful sites to visit, this one is accessed by a purpose built path that leads directly to it, and there’s even a bench provided to sit and reflect for a while. Earlier this year, when I was sick with my joints and my pregnancy, it was one of the only sites I was able to access, and it really was so healing to enjoy a quiet moment in the company of such a beautiful link to the past. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.