Photographer's Note

This is a view from the hill that you climb in the approach to Loughcrew Cairns, near the town of Oldcastle in Co Meath. The town itself can be seen off in the distance.

While a lot less well known than Newgrange with its famous interior illumination at the solstice, Loughcrew is equally beautiful for its illumination at the equinoxes. The backstone of the main chamber on this hill is known as Cairn T and its interior is lit up by a strong beam of sunlight on the equinox of spring and autumn. As the light enters the chamber of this passage tomb, it is shaped by the many stones along the entrance of the passage and as it moves towards the center backstone, it lights up from left to right revealing the many ancient solar symbols carved here.

This site was first discovered to feature this amazing feat of solar engineering in 1980 when Irish American scholar Martin Brennan realized how the light illuminated the central chamber on the equinox. in total, there are 23 tombs in the complex here at Lough Crew and they date to approx. 3500 BC, making them over 5500 years old.

As you approach the ancient cairns, you can drive about two thirds of the way up the hill, then park in a small carpark and walk the rest of the way on foot. While the place is open at all times to visitors, animals graze freely on the slopes too and will give a visitor an inquisitive look at they pass by. They are skittish though, and the sound of my shutter clicking was enough to send this sheep running.

Just as well, considering there are over three and a half million sheep in Ireland, they almost outnumber people, so its a good thing they have a nervous disposition and are not prone to rising up against us :)

The reason for the name on this shot is because all of the sheep have different numbers painted on them, (here we see four and eight, 48) While I am sure the reason is logical and practical, I imagine the farmers sitting around on the cairns on a sunny day playing Woolly Bingo.

thanks for looking!

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4177 W: 26 N: 9240] (33774)
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