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Established 16/3/2000


Borderlands: journey through changing times
The historical sites of Ireland's Eastern Border Region


A new venture to promote the historical and ancient sites of the border region of Ireland has been launched. Borderlands takes you on a journey through the ever changing landscape of Ireland's Eastern Borders. Many of the sites highlighted by the new project are within an hour's drive or less of Newgrange and the Boyne Valley monuments. Recent changes in the region now allow easy access to many wonderful historical sites scanning 6,000 years of history.

Borderlands map
Click on the Borderlands map to see the sites highlighted.

The Borderlands area covers Newry & Mourne, Banbridge and Armagh in Northern Ireland and Louth and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. With over 50 historical sites, wonderful scenery and warm, welcoming people, borderlands is an ideal place to visit for special interest groups, and tours full of history and intrigue.

The Borderlands guide is a full-colour booklet packed with information, photos and maps to help you enjoy the prehistoric monuments and historic sites of the area. It is a fantastic publication and will be available shortly at local tourist offices. A new website packed with the same information is online at Each site is described in detail and the information includes access to the monuments and local facilities.

Some prehistoric sites of interest in the Borderlands area

Legananny Portel Dolmen, Banbridge

Legananny Portal Tomb
Legananny Portal Tomb, Banbridge, Co. Down

Lenananny Portal Tomb, or Dolmen, is located on the southern fringe of the Slieve Croob mountain range and offers stunning views of the Mourne Mountains. The tomb is over 1.5m high and the capstone is over 3m in length. Around the winter solstice the morning sun illuminates the entire underside of the capstone and tip of the backstone. It is still a mystery as to exactly how stones of this size were put in place but it is assumed that they were pulled by men and perhaps oxen, using ropes, timber sleds and rollers. There are more than 170 portal tombs in Ireland. These occur largely in the north but are also found in counties Clare, Galway and Waterford. It is believed that these developed from court tombs, probably in the mid-Ulster area, and later spread southwards. They are also to be found across the Irish Sea in Wales and Cornwall, where a total of around 50 examples are known. See also Proleek Portal Tomb, Co. Louth

Edergole Court Tomb in Monaghan
Edergole Court Tomb, County Monaghan

Edergole Court Tomb, Co. Monaghan

Edergole or "Eadar Gabhal" - a place between two forks (of a stream) is located south-west of Rockcorry on an elevated ridge, from which many ringforts atop surrounding drumlins can be viewed. Edergole Court Tomb, known locally as the Giant's Grave is partly incorporated into a roadside fence. Almost eight metres long, two jambs are surmounted by a lintel to provide access to the gallery. In the past this was an important centre for the Neolithic community acting as both a communal burial tomb and ritual site. The rituals performed are long since forgotten but the stones remain to stand as a testament to Ireland's earliest farmers. One of the largest stones bounding the road has been inscribed with a cross, an attempt perhaps to Christianise the monument at some time in the more recent past. An ancient burial ground is located at the sharp bend in the road just before the court tomb site. It is well worth a visit, containing many unusual discoid headstones with folk art in the unique South Ulster style dating from 1724. Look out for the skull and cross-bones motifs on the back face of the stones. It is likely that the burial ground was at one time the site of a monastery or church going back to early Christian times.

Annaghmore Court Cairn, Newry & Mourne

Annaghmore Court Cairn, Newry & Mourne
Annaghmore Court Cairn

Situated on a rocky outcrop west of Slieve Gullion, Annaghmare court tomb is one of the finest surviving examples of its kind in Ireland. The townland of Annaghmare gets its name from the Gaelic Áth na Marbh meaning ‘the ford of the dead’. The tomb is known locally as ‘the Black Castle’ and is said to have been the site of many ghostly apparitions. When it was excavated in the 1960s archaeologists found human bones, pottery, flints and, interestingly, bear teeth. Court tombs get their name from a semi-circular forecourt defined by several large stones which leads into a series of burial chambers. Unusually, at Annaghmare there is a small standing stone in the centre of the court. The court suggests that they were used as both tombs and ritual sites. These tombs were normally covered by cairns (great mounds of earth and stone). Court tombs are the first type of megalithic monument to have been built in Ireland and date from around 4000-3000 BC . There are almost 400 surviving court tombs in Ireland which are found almost exclusively in the northern third of Ireland – in Ulster and north Connacht.

Proleek Portal Tomb, Co. Louth

Proleek Portal Tomb in County Louth
Proleek Portal Tomb in County Louth

The magnificent Proleek Portal Tomb, situated in the grounds of Ballymascanlon Hotel on the legendary Cooley Peninsula, is one of the finest examples of its kind in Ireland.
Portal tombs have two tall stones at the front (portal stones) and a smaller stone at the back supporting a large capstone. A portal tomb resembles a giant’s table and is sometimes called a ‘dolmen’, which comes from the Breton word tolmen meaning ‘stone table’. Proleek Portal Tomb is about 3m high and has a huge capstone weighing approximately 35 tons. Legend says that a wish will be granted to anyone who can throw a pebble on its capstone so that it stays there. The two front portal stones are 2m high. Known as the ‘Giant’s Load’, it is believed that it was carried to Ireland by a Scottish giant named Parrah Boug McShagean (who is said to be buried nearby).
There is also a Bronze Age wedge tomb nearby.

See our page on Proleek

All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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