Kilmashogue Wedge Tomb

The megalithic tomb at Kilmashogue is a fine example of a wedge tomb. Wedge tombs are so called because of their shape, being higher and wider at the entrance before narrowing towards the rear. Wedge tombs generally date to the late Neolithic and Chalcolithic prehistoric periods, between 2,500 to 2,000 BC. This is the time when the first metalworking began to take place in Ireland, with the first appearances of gold or copper items. These monuments are known as ‘megalithic tombs’ – megalithic literally means ‘large stone’ and  a number of different types of megalithic tombs can be found in Ireland including Passage, Portal (also known as Dolmens) and Court Tombs.




The tomb sits on a natural platform just over 213m (700 feet) above sea level on the northern slopes of Kilmashogue Mountain. It is not visible from the lower slopes which may explain why it remained unknown until relatively recently. Although the modern tree plantation gives an air of seclusion, the decision to build the tomb here was probably due to the extensive views to the east, north and west that would have been visible prior to the plantation. Those who constructed the tomb would have been able to see the Irish Sea to the east and Slieve Gullion and the Cooley Mountains on the far horizon to the north.


The tomb was excavated by H.E. Kilbride Jones in 1953 just a few years after it was discovered. This followed on from the excavation of another wedge tomb at nearby Ballyedmonduff. He uncovered the gallery of the tomb which consisted of two chambers aligned north-east to south west. The main chamber of the wedge tomb was sunken and contained fragments of cremated bone and charcoal. Both side walls of the chamber were constructed of three lines of upright stones known as orthostats. When the tomb was first built, the chamber would have been covered by a capstones and the entire structure was covered by a cairn of stones. The excavation also revealed evidence that this site was later reused for burials during the Bronze Age. Three cists – small stone-lined graves – were found in the immediate vicinity of the wedge tomb. These contained pottery food vessels that contained cremated human remains. Each vessel was place in the cist in an inverted position i.e. upside-down. 




Kilmashogue is one of a cluster of three wedge tombs in South Dublin. The two other can be found in Massy’s Wood, Killakee about 3km to the south-west and at Ballyedmonduff on the southern slops of Two-Rock Mountain 4.5km to the south-east.


The Wicklow Way, one of Ireland’s foremost long-distance walking routes, passes close to the tomb. There are also 10km of walks through the forest around Kilmashogue Mountain. The forest is largely planted with coniferous Sitka Spruce and Scots Pine.

Link to Kilmashogue Forest Recreation Site details and location of the Wedge Tomb.

Text and Photos: Abarta Heritage



Archaeology Sites in the Dublin Mountains

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