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Loughcrew - Sliabh na Caillighe

Decorated stones at Cairn U

Stone 14 at Cairn UA plan of Cairn U

The highly decorated, but exposed, surface of stone 14 at Cairn U, beside Cairn T at the summit of Carnbane East at Loughcrew. Cairn U has a circumference of 48.2 metres, and the passage is oriented to 108 degrees (18 degrees south of east). A plan of the passage and chamber of Cairn U is shown above right. Its plan is similar to that of Cairn L.
Stone 8 is also impressive, but worn by the weather. The dot inside the circle, which is present in the centre of the concentric part-circles towards the top right of the stone, represents the sun, according to Brennan. This symbol for the sun persists to this day in astronomy. This cairn, like many of those at Loughcrew, appears not to have had a roof. The passage is extremely narrow, and its orientation does not seem to be toward any sunrise of calendrical significance, according to Jean McMann's measuremens, but some believe the passage to be oriented on Samhain and Imbolc sunrises (Nov/Feb Cross Quarter Day). I have not observed this event yet!
Stone 8, Cairn U
Brennan says Cairn U "is synchronized with Cairn L to indicate the cross-quarter days on 8 November and 4 February, marking the beginning of winter and spring." Another small cairn, Cairn S, indicates cross-quarter days on 6 May and 8 August, marking the beginning of Summer and Autumn. Imagery on the back stone of Cairn U may represent the rising sun, according to Brennan.
A photo of Cairn U
A plan of the whole cairn

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Notice: All pictures, except where otherwise stated, are copyright © Anthony Murphy, 2001. Images may not be copied, reproduced or redistributed without the prior written consent of Anthony Murphy.
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