Other Excavations – Two Cairns at Gortacloghan

Other Excavations – A wooden javelin from Altinure
24th March 2022
Other Excavations – Some Wooden Utensils from Tyance, Moyagoney and Dreenan Bog
24th March 2022

Other Excavations – Two Cairns at Gortacloghan

Project Attributes


Andrew McLean May


Mountsandel Discovery and Heritage Group


24th March 2022

Two Cairns at Gortacloghan, Co. Londonderry

These cairns are close together in the Parish of Desertoghill near Garvagh. They are in the foothills at 500 feet in an area where have been other prehistoric finds (ordinance survey map reference given) .

Some of the structures look insignificant. This one was identified following the removal of whins. Others in the area have contributed to our understanding e.g. Well Glass, Cornacleary, and Gortcorbies. An ancient track led to these from the River Bann .Travellers passed here  on the way to the River  Roe or south to  Glenconkein.

The excavation took place in July 1946, was grant aided and helped by the six persons named.

The cairns were built of basalt, oval and form a continuous line of 39 feet long.

In the centre of Cairn A were calcined bones and charcoal mixed with soil. An expert said a piece of skull could be identified and the opinion was that the remains were human. The wood was hazel.

Cairn B – in the centre was a cist 2¼feet by 1¹∕3 feet, the walls consist of 4 basalt blocks, the floor was a paste with calcined bone and charcoal resting on a flat stone. The expert Professor Walmsley could identify adult human skull and limb bones. The wood was oak.


A McL May, 1948 Ulster Journal of Archaeology Third Series, Vol .11 (1948) pp 54-56 (3pages)   https://www.jstor.org/stable/20566550


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