Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Glantane East Wedge Tomb/ An Gleanntán Thoir Tuama Dingeach

On the R582 from Millstreet in a little valley between the Boggeragh and Derrynasagart Mountains just above the keel river is a megalithic complex which this monument belongs to. In the field beside this tomb there is a stone circle flanked by 2 Gallán or standing stones. There is nice views of the little valley below from the stone circle, this little valley is what gives this area its name, Glantane from the Irish 'Gleanntán', meaning little glen or valley. From the wedge tomb the views are more impressive of the mountains, shown in this illustration is the misty Boggeraghs in the east looming large over the tomb and the little glen. If you were to turn west, there are nice views of the Derrynasaggart mountains as well. It makes me think that this monument was created to emphasise the mountains, while the stone circle had the glen below as its focus, perhaps hinting at what the different periods worshipped in nature. 

There are two old names in Irish common for these tombs, one is Leaba which means bed but can mean grave too, another is Leacht, meaning tomb or grave. Both are also used with other tombs found in Ireland too like Court tombs and Portal tombs. This wedge tomb looks like it's on its last legs, with some portions of the capstone no longer supported by its flagstones. Would be a real shame if it fell over though as it's a really nice small tomb.

The deep dark under the capstone of wedge tombs always make me feel like I am looking into another world beyond the darkness. As some have remarked what we are looking at maybe the entrance to a house of death i.e. a tomb. Perhaps some of them and their alignment to celestal bodies is for this reason, with the darkness of the tomb and the darkness of the night linked. Perhaps this is an echo of one of their functions, as a burial place, a keyhole into another world, whatever after life they believed in. The Irish landscape is littered with monuments to the dead, showing how important this aspect of human life is, the life after. Perhaps the location for these monuments was chosen because they stand out in the horizon on a hill, so meant to act as a daily reminder to those working in the glens below of their ancestors and heritage. But also it may have been located there to show those passing by, who owns this land, to mark out their terroritory. A few tombs may have been built close together marking out how far their territory went. What better way to guard your borders than placing your ancestoral spirits there, minding it spiritually, while you mind it physically.

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