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Labbacallee, Co. Cork
Location: From Glanworth head south on R 512 and take the first left.
The tomb is approximately 1 1/2 kilometers down this road on the left. The site
actually abuts the road behind a small wall. It is well-signposted with a small lay-by
large enough for several vehicles.
Dimensions: The gallery is aligned WNW-ESE and is divided into a 6.2 meter long main chamber and a smaller (0.9 meter long)
rear chamber. This two- chambered gallery is surmounted by three massive roofstones. The westernmost of these measures
4.85 meters by 2.45 meters. The middle roofstone measures 3.35 meters long by 1.85 meters wide and the rear (easternmost)
is 2.75 meters by 1.8 meters. The gallery is flanked on both sides by an outer wall of huge stones, part of which abuts
a modern field wall for the adjoining pasture. The western end of this National Monument is a rather confusing mix
of great orthostats and prostrate stones, some of which may have formed some type of double facade, but nothing certain can
be determined conclusively of the design of this western section of the tomb.
Features: The huge orthostats on the western end closest to the road and the buttressing stones at the eastern
end make this tomb quite recognizable from any other wedge tomb. A line of kerbstone at the south is linked to the eastern
end of this structure.
Comments:As mentioned in many publications, this wedge tomb is probably one of the finest of it's type in
Ireland. Certainly the size of the rock slabs that compose it are imposing, and the fin-like buttresses on the outside at the
rear of the tomb are an unusual and useful feature as well as aesthetically pleasing. The road impinges on the site and
the enclosing fence makes unimpeded photographing of the western facade nearly impossible. Wedge tombs don't get any
better than this, and while the site isn't wheelchair accessible, it could not be much easier to visit.
History: Labbacallee was excavated in 1934-35 at which time the tomb was virtually intact with the major exception
being the western end, closest to the road where disturbance has made it difficult to determine the exact design. Evidence
of a possible kist containing human bones and fragments of a food vessel were found in this area of the tomb. The upper layer
of the main chamber contained a bone point, spindle whorl and fragments of a human skull along with the expected field trash.
Beneath this, charcoal-blackened earth yielded numerous animal bones and a few fragments of human bone in the western
section. In the eastern side of the main chamber, fragments of the skeletons of an adult male and a child were found, along with the
skull of a human female. These remains were found with part of a decorated Beaker pot and numerous pieces of
coarser Knockadoon type pottery. A headless female skeleton was found along with a bone pin in
the bottom of the smaller eastern chamber. The conclusion at the time was that the skull from the eastern part of the main
chamber most likely belonged to this skeleton. The fill above this burial contained more animal bones, some fragments of
cremated human bones and more sherds of coarse pottery. Radiocarbon dating places the burials in a timeframe between
2202 BC and 2138 BC.
Other Items of Interest: To the south side of the tomb outside the kerb in the
grassy area lies a small cairn.