Ballyedmonduff Wedge Tomb

Situated on the south-eastern slopes of Two-Rock Mountain, the wedge tomb at Ballyedmonduff is located to the north of the charming village of Glencullen along the Dublin Mountains Way. Wedge tombs date from around 2,500 to 2,000 BC, during the late Neolithic Period and Chalcolithic Period, when the first metal objects of copper or gold began to appear in Ireland.

Wedge tombs represent the last phase of megalithic tomb building in Ireland. Megalithic literally means ‘large stone’ and the term refers to large tombs that were made of stone during the prehistoric period. As well as wedge tombs, a number of different types of megalithic tombs can be found in Ireland including Passage, Portal (also known as Dolmens) and Court Tombs.

The name ‘wedge tomb’ derives from their shape as they are generally broader and higher at the front, narrowing towards the rear. When built, the burial chambers were roofed by slabs laid directly on the side-walls which often have one or more rows of outer walling consisting of upright stones known as ‘orthostats’. 



The Ballyedmonduff wedge tomb is regarded as one of the finest examples of its type in Ireland. It consists of a burial gallery that is aligned east–west and divided into three chambers. It was surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of kerbstones with a straight facade at the western end that created a formal entrance to the burial gallery. It was marked on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey Maps as a ‘Giant’s Grave’, and described in the Ordnance Survey Letters of 1837 as follows: “I doubt that we have met so perfect a pagan grave in any of the other Counties examined.” In fact, the monument had only come to light a few years previously when it was discovered by Alderman Blacker of Dublin.


The tomb was excavated in 1945 by Sean Ó Riordáin and Ruadhri de Valera of University College Dublin. Prior to this the structure of the tomb was not evident as is was covered by an earthen mound. The archaeologists found over 140 sherds of pottery that represented at least four Beaker pottery vessels. The pots were carefully decorated with incised comb and chevron motifs. They also discovered pieces of flint and a stone macehead along with a small quantity of cremated human remains. Though today the tomb is hidden from view by trees, at the time it was built it would have had extensive views to the east and south, with the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain forming a dramatic backdrop to the ceremonies at the tomb.




An example of prehistoric rock art can be seen on one of the granite rocks that lie between the outer kerb and the tomb. Seven small cup marks have been made on one side of this rock, each one between 1.5 and 3cm in diameter. These small depressions are typical of the motifs carved during the later Neolithic and early Bronze Age periods.

Ballyedmonduff is one of a cluster of three wedge tombs in South Dublin. The two others can be found in Massy’s Wood, Killakee about 6km away to the west/north-west and on the northern slopes of Kilmashogue Mountain 4.5km to the north-west. The quantity and quality of the megalithic tombs in this area shows the importance of the Dublin Mountains during prehistory.

 Text and Images: Abarta Heritage



Archaeology Sites in the Dublin Mountains

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