Loughcrew Cairns

Sliabh na Caillí | Cairn Loch Craobh

Loughcrew Cairns

Sliabh na Caillí | Cairn Loch Craobh

Ireland's Ancient East graphic motif based on stone carvings at New Grange

The Loughcrew Cairns are an extensive passage tomb cemetery that crowns the summits of hills above Oldcastle in County Meath. Here you can discover myths, legends and some of the finest megalithic art in Ireland.

Loughcrew Cairns is a passage tomb cemetery located near the village of Oldcastle in County Meath. The most striking features of the archaeological landscape of Loughcrew are the three large cairns that dominate the summit of three steep hills, Patrickstown, Carnbane West and Carnbane East. The most visited is Carnbane East because it has the largest of the tombs, Cairn T, which acts as the focal point of the whole cemetery. The tombs on Carnbane West are on private land and are currently inaccessible to visitors.

On the summit of Carnbane East, Cairn T is surrounded by a number of smaller tombs, it is thought to date to around c.3,000 BC. The large cairn measures around 35 metres (115 ft) in diameter and this passage tomb has a cruciform-shaped chamber and some of the finest examples of Neolithic art in Ireland. If you are lucky enough to visit Loughcrew during the autumn or spring equinox, you may witness sunlight entering the chamber to illuminate the inside of the tomb (cloud cover permitting).

Loughcrew is one of the most rewarding sites to visit in Ireland, and a true must-see for anyone who visits the Boyne Valley. In comparison to Newgrange, Loughcrew is less frequently visited, and as such it can offer perhaps a more intimate experience with the Neolithic passage-tomb builders. There are free guided tours by OPW staff in the summer months. At other times of the year, the key must be collected from Loughcrew Gardens (a deposit and identification are required). However, ongoing conservation works at Cairn T has led to this tomb being closed for periods of time. Even if you do find the interior of the tomb locked, the site is certainly well worth the walk for the spectacular views and impressive concentration of Neolithic monuments.

Information on the Visitor Experience at Loughcrew continues below the gallery.

Visiting Loughcrew Cairns – Information

No Visitor Centre
Red Icon showing there are no family friendly facilities at the site

Coordinates: Lat. 53.744677, Long. -7.112322
Grid Reference: N 58549 77595
Opening Times:  Although you can still enjoy a great walk up to see the exterior of Cairn T and its satellite tombs, at present the interior of Cairn T is inaccessible due to urgent conservation works. For details see here.
Nearest Town: Oldcastle is about 6km to the north.
Entry Fee: Free.
Accessibility: The site is a long steep walk up stairs and then up and over a hill. It is unfortunately not accessible for wheelchair users.
Dog Friendly? There are usually sheep present on the hill, so I wouldn’t like to bring my dog (if you do bring your dog please keep it on a leash at all times).
Suitable for Young Children (Under 10?) It’s quite a long uphill walk so it depends on your child’s tolerance for that.

Directions to the L