Carving Out a Place in History

Clare O'Connor explores Knockmany chambered cairn

The site of this chambered cairn, atop a steep hill, is worth visiting for its breathtaking view of the Clogher Valley alone. Perhaps this is why our ancestors felt so inclined to make their mark there leaving behind some of the best examples of ‘cup and ring’ rock engravings from the Neolithic or early Bronze Age.

CairnThe tomb lies on the grounds of Knockmany Forest Park two miles outside Augher. Its stones have been built over and padlocked behind a gate so it’s worth arranging access with the Peatlands Country Park (028 38851102) before visiting.

There are seven main stones each between 1 and 2 metres in height. These are set deep into the bedrock to form a circle. It is the inward facades of three of these stones that provoke most interest because of the enigmatic carvings they display.

CairnTheories abound as to what these designs mean. Their spirals and swirls are usually associated with the Boyne culture and Loughcrew and may represent the human face or eyes. They may have had some religious significance, one theory connecting them to an ancient goddess from far flung Syria.

Our skies were probably more active thousands of years ago and the markings might have been inspired by the sun, moon and stars.

The great effort required in making such a monument can only have been warranted by the burial of a king or someone of similar standing. As with its date, however, we can only speculate.

Supported by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation