Exploring Waterford's Ancient Monuments

Guide to Waterford Monuments


Portal Tombs


More commonly known as Dolmens or Cromlechs, but referred to in archaeological terms as Portal Tombs, these prehistoric monuments are usually characterized by what seems an unnecessary large capstone. Because of their imposing presence they are perhaps one of the best known and recognisable ancient monuments present in the Irish landscape.

In Waterford the best known and finest examples are those found at Gaulstown (above) and Knockeen. These monuments are internationally known and rank amongst the finest of their type found in Ireland.

Portal Tombs are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb usually consisting of three or more upright stones (megaliths) supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table). Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 B.C. to 3000 B.C.). They were usually covered with earth or smaller stones though in many cases that covering has long weathered away, leaving only a massive stone skeleton in place.

These burial places, which would have most likely required great planning of their construction, are thought to have been burial markers for leaders and those who may have held high rank in the society. They may have also been a statement of land ownership and very likely served as places of ritual and worship, with many still containing funerary artifacts that indicate belief in afterlife and the possibility of  communication with the  spiritual world.

During the 1920’s – 1940’s the Waterford tombs were investigated. Many of the tombs were found to have been previously disturbed and with evidence that cremation was the usual burial rite. Other Portal tombs found in Waterford besides the two mentioned above include examples at Dunhill, Ballynageeragh , Savagetown, Ballyquin as well as other ruinous examples.




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Ballyquin Portal Tomb

A delightfully situated monument

Read about Here


Tallest Stone


Waterford's  tallest standing stone is  located 5 km from Tramore. The impressive stone measures 3.7m in height. See it  Here


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