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Volunteers repair ancient site 19 May 2015

Slieve Gullion: Volunteers help repair ancient cairn




A group of volunteers has helped to repair a 5,000–year–old burial cairn on one of Northern Ireland’s most significant mountains.

Around 30 of them trekked to the top of Slieve Gullion in south Armagh at the weekend to carry out the work, under the supervision of an archaeologist.

They helped to fix damage done to the huge passage grave by the weather and increasing numbers of hill walkers.

Stones had become dislodged from the top of the ancient cairn.

As a result, the entrance to the site was in danger of being blocked.

The burial chamber is lined up to illuminate with the light from the setting sun of the winter solstice on 21 December every year.

Archaeologist Martin Keery, who oversaw the work, said the Slieve Gullion passage grave was one of 190 “state–care” sites in Northern Ireland.

He praised the enthusiasm of the volunteers who climbed the mountain to help repair what is Ireland’s highest passage grave.

“This is the highest mountain in this area, so this would have been a prestigious site,” Mr Keery said.

He said its prominence and size meant the burial chamber would have been used for the cremation of important figures of the period.

The work was organised by the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership which was established to conserve and promote the environment in the area.

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