Brownshill Dolmen (Dolmain Chnoc an Bhrúnaigh) aka Kernanstown Cromlech

Brownshill Dolmen

Location: 3 km (2 mi) East of Carlow (off R726 road) Map

Open: daily


Description of Brownshill Dolmen

The Browneshill dolmen (also Brownes Hill; Irish Cnoc an Bhrúnaigh) - officially known as the Kernanstown Portal Tomb - is a Neolithic portal tomb that dates from 3300 to 2900 BC. was built. The dolmen is in County Carlow, Ireland, two miles east of Carlow off the R726 (road). Portal tombs are megalithic complexes in the British Isles, in which two upright stones of equal height with a door stone in between form the front of a chamber that is covered with a sometimes enormous capstone.

It has the largest capstone of any megalithic site in the British Isles. It consists of over 100 tons of granite and is 4.7 m × 6.1 m in size and about two meters thick. The cap stone rests in a three-point support on the two portal stones and a lying end stone. The so-called door stone is still there and another stone is free in front of the system.

There are three theories as to how this huge stone was placed in this position. In all of them, the capstone was found on site and not transported from further away.

The first theory is that the builders didn't move the capstone at all. They may have dug holes individually into which the three supporting stones were placed and then removed the earth on which the stone lay to produce the dolmen's appearance as it is today.
Second, the builders could have set up the three supporting stones and then constructed an earthen ramp on which the capstone was levered into its current position using timber.
The third theory is that they levered up the edge of the capstone. They filled the resulting cavity with earth and stones and in this way successively built under each of the three supporting stones.


Flanking stones

Flank Stones are occasionally found on one or both sides in front of the Portal Stones, indicating a simple Court, as some Court Tombs show. Since Portal Tombs hardly show any trace of a cairn or mound, more than other types, this part was probably mostly cleared with the mound. Single flanking stones occur at Menlough, County Galway, Ireland, and the Tirnony Dolmen, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, while at Ahaglaslin, County Cork, low set stones precede both stones of the portal and further stones form a funnel-shaped entrance. A crescent-shaped setting of low stones was found at Ticloy, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Many dolmens were covered with mounds of earth or stone. There were no traces of that here.