Friday, 27 July 2012

Scrahanard Wedge Tomb/Screathan Ard Tuama Áiléir Dingeach

Scrahanard is a small wedge tomb  near Macroom in Cork, just off the R582 on the way to Millstreet, up a country road to an area littered with megalithic sites. This tomb is actually situated in a megalithic complex, with a standing stone and cairn in the same field, and another wedge tomb a small bit further north up a scree covered hill. The name Scrahanard comes from exactly this, 'Screathan Ard' in Irish, which translates as 'high slope covered in scree', scree being small loose rocks.

The tomb itself was aligned East and West unusually as most wedge tombs are usually aligned North East to South West, towards the setting sun. The Gallery or chamber was covered with a single roofstone, but a large part of the wedge tomb is now buried inside the adjoining hedge. There are nice views from the site but hedges and trees now block most of what must have been an impressive vista at one stage as the tomb is built on a slope in a glen between the Boggeragh Mountains to the east and the Derrynasaggart Mountains to the west.

Landscape art colours the way we see monuments such as these, we see them as we see the greater part of nature, as outsiders. Now most people are urban and it is this which has led landscape art to become more and more prevalent in western culture. We now live in man made environments and look back at the world we once lived in with a touch of regret. This has been strong since the Renaissance when the fugitive from civilisation, the hermit, was held in esteem but it goes much further back than this. In early christian Ireland for instance, there was many monks that gave up what they viewed was the corruption of human life and opted for a life in nature instead, believing it was in nature that god could be felt. Perhaps  megalithic tombs entrancing in a similar way, as they represent another version of humanity, one where they lived far closer to nature. We have become so far removed from the landscape that when we visit we are just that, visitors, spectators, we are constantly outside looking in. That is what makes us so vastly different to the megalith builders, we are simple spectators, they were the true dwellers.

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