MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS
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MIDDLETOWN PORTAL TOMB
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This partially restored and well preserved portal tomb, marked as 'Druid's Altar' on all
editions of the OS maps, is situated 400m SE of White Lough (*An Loch Bán) in
undulating farmland, but now in a purpose built public enclosure, 1km NE of the
village of Loughduff (*An Lathaigh Dhubh, meaning 'the black swamps' or 'black
muddy place’) and 4.5km west of Carrigan (*An Carraigín, meaning 'a small rock').
The small chamber, aligned SSE-NNW and approx. 2m in length, is formed by two well-
match portal stones, two side-stones and a steep, sloping capstone. The tomb lacks a
back-stone. A small well-set stone, north of the west side-stone, is of uncertain
function. There are no traces of a mound around the tomb. The portal stones are set
0.80m apart with their vertical faces facing inwards. The east portal stone measures
1.70m in height, 0.90m in width and 0.70m in depth. The west portal stone measures
1.80m in height, 0.95m in width and 0.80m in depth. The side-stones, set 1.30m apart,
with their flat faces facing inwards. The east side-stone, which leans slightly inwards,
measures 1.75m in length, 1.50m in height and 0.55m in depth. The west side-stone
measures 1.40m in length, 1.15m in height and 0.45m in depth. The capstone, which
rests in a sloping position on the west portal stone and both side-stones, measures 1.70
m in length, 1.90m in width and 0.55m in depth. The Descriptive Remarks from the
Ordnance Survey Parish Namebook 1836, stated that 'an old druidical altar stands near
the side of road at the south end of the townland' (Desc. Rem.: 1830-40). Borlase only
mentions that it is 'in the Townland of Middletown, and Parish of Drumlumman, E. of
White Lough, is a dolmen marked Druid's Altar in Ord. Surv. Map No. 30' (Borlase, p.
207). However, the best historical description of the tomb comes from Joseph Meehan
(Member, R.S.A.I.) published in the Society's Journal in 1909, which he called
'Loughduff Cromlech'. Meehan stated that in his time, the 'five uprights supported the
covering slab' and 'the largest of them may be observed on either side of the door'
(Meehan, p.88). Meehan also alluded to an interesting observation he made. In one of
his images (image 12) he stated that 'on the inside of the upright (east portal stone),
against which the taller child's shoulder is resting, there are some artificial carvings or
markings' and were of 'very remote antiquity' (Meehan, p.90). These 'markings' cannot
now be seen and may have been because of weathering.
Sources:
Borlase, W., ‘The Dolmens of Ireland’ (Vol. I, 1897)
Meehan, J., 'The Loughduff Cromlech, County Cavan' J.R.S.A.I. Vol. 39, (1909)
Ó Nualláin, S., & de Valera, R., 'Survey of the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland' Vol. III
* Placenames Database of Ireland 2017