The most characteristic attraction of County Carlow is The Brownshill Dolmen dating back to prehistoric times. Moreover, County Carlow is known as “The Dolmen County”. And it is a nickname based on the Brownshill Dolmen.
Brownshill Dolmen is located 3 km east of the town of Carlow, just off the provincial road R726. Due to its impressive size, Dolmen is clearly visible from the road.
Typical Dolmen consists of boulders dug vertically into the ground and a large flat rock block arranged on them. Besides Brownshill Dolmen is huge. Its capstone weighs about 150 tons, considered the heaviest in Europe.
Brownshill Dolmen is a National Monument of Ireland. National Monument is a legal term for a structure that has been listed for preservation by the Irish State.
What is Brownshill Dolmen and who built it?
So there were different hypotheses on this topic. The winner was that it was a megalithic grave from 4000 – 3000 BC. It was established on the basis of a study of numerous Dolmen in which human remains were often found.
So, the Brownshill portal tomb was built as a burial place by Ireland`s first farmers sometime between 4000 – 3000 BC. Also, the portal tomb is so called because the entrance to the burial chamber is marked by a pair of tall portal stones. And covered with a single massive capstone that rests on the portals and slopes downwards towards the rear.
Brownshill Dolmen has a very large granite finial measuring 4.7 mx 6.1 mx 2 meters. This crowning is based on two stone portals. Dolmen is located on a hill. On which once the house and real estate of the Browne family were located (hence its name).
Dolmen, also called Kernanstown is therefore a kind of pagan religious monument. Probably ordinary people were not buried in the Dolmens. They buried people more significant in the society like kings, leaders, and their families, as in the pyramids in Egypt.
Before my arrival in Ireland, to Carlow, I had never heard of the Dolmen before. When I had the opportunity to see Brownshill Dolmen for the first time. I admit its dimensions impressed me.
How in the Neolithic times a huge boulder at the top of this Dolmen?
The hypotheses of scientists on this subject are different. As well as about the original purpose of the Dolmen. There are also different opinions. Some believe that they were “places of power” or meditation places, and others argue that they are tombs. Some feel some unknown energy present in the middle of the Dolmen. Others are convinced that it is only self-suggestion and superstition.
What’s the truth? – we do not know. Dolmens were special places for ancient people, and now they attract us with their mystery and magic. Researchers are still developing new theories, maybe they will solve this puzzle one day…
The second dolmen I got to in County Carlow is Haroldstown Dolmen.
Location of Brownshill Dolmen:
Below my photos taken in July 2020.