The most characteristic attraction of County Carlow is The Brownshill Dolmen dating back to prehistoric times. And Carlow is known as “The Dolmen County”, 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. Brownshill Dolmen is huge, its capstone weighs about 150 tons and is considered the heaviest in Europe.
Brownshill Dolmen is a National Monument of Ireland. National Monument is a legal term for a structure which has been listed for preservation by the Irish State.
What is Brownshill Dolmen and who built it?
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, Brownshill portal tomb was built as a burial place by Ireland`s first farmers sometimes betwen 4000 – 3000 BC. A portal tomb is so called because the entrance to the burial chamber is marked by a pair of tall portal stones and coverd with a single massive capstone which rest 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 was 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 society – 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. I had the opportunity to see Brownshill Dolmen for the first time and I admit – its dimensions impressed me, I wonder 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, 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…
Location of Brownshill Dolmen: