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Established 16/3/2000
Loughcrew - Sliabh na Caillighe
Star9 Decorated stones, Cairn U, Carnbane East Star9
Cairn U stone 14
A plan of Cairn U

The highly decorated, but exposed, surface of stone 14 at Cairn U, beside Cairn T at the summit of Carnbane East at Loughcrew. Cairn U has a circumference of 48.2 metres, and the passage is oriented to 108 degrees (18 degrees south of east). A plan of the passage and chamber of Cairn U is shown above right. Its plan is similar to that of Cairn L.

Cairn U stone 8Stone 8 is also impressive, but worn by the weather. The dot inside the circle, which is present in the centre of the concentric part-circles towards the top right of the stone, represents the sun, according to Brennan. This symbol for the sun persists to this day in astronomy. This cairn, like many of those at Loughcrew, appears not to have had a roof. The passage is extremely narrow, and its orientation does not seem to be toward any sunrise of calendrical significance, according to Jean McMann's measuremens, but some believe the passage to be oriented on Samhain and Imbolc sunrises (Nov/Feb Cross Quarter Day). I have not observed this event yet!

Cairn U back stoneBrennan says Cairn U "is synchronized with Cairn L to indicate the cross-quarter days on 8 November and 4 February, marking the beginning of winter and spring." Another small cairn, Cairn S, indicates cross-quarter days on 6 May and 8 August, marking the beginning of Summer and Autumn. Imagery on the back stone of Cairn U may represent the rising sun, according to Brennan.

Click on the image on right to see a larger version. Much of the art at Loughcrew is exposed to the elements, and thus is faded and difficult to see except under special lighting conditions.

A photo of Cairn U
A plan of the whole cairn
On the right is a zig-zag pattern along the top of stone 14 at Cairn U. Stone 14 is located in the right-hand recess (northern recess) of the chamber. These zigzag patterns may well have been some sort of astronomical counting device. Some theories link the megalithic zigzags with a river, perhaps the Milky Way, the river of the sky. Cairn U is located immediately adjacent to the famous Cairn T. The cairns are lettered, seemingly from west to east. On Carnbane East are Cairns R1, R2, S, T, U, V and W. Click here to see another photo of this zigzag pattern, lit by flash. See the old version of this page. Zigzag on stone 14, Cairn U
All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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