The Hanging Thorn Cairn, Ballyutoag

Map Reference: J290794 (3290, 3794)

The Hanging Thorn Cairn in Ballyutoag is the remnant of a court tomb. Only the stones of the forecourt remain in situ but there are many other separated large stones which may be the remains of the burial chambers. At least 12 stones form a semicircular arrangement with the opening to the north.

Running south from these stones there are several separated stones but they have no significant arrangement. None of these stones seem to be deeply seated which suggests that none of them are in their original position. Excavation within the forecourt revealed considerable amount of pottery as well as some charcoal.

A thorn tree growing between two of the court stones is known as the Hanging Thorn and tradition says that a man was hanged from it in 1798. It is not clear if the existing tree is the original Hanging Thorn. The area is associated with the noted highwayman, Nishy Hogan, who is said to have collected a lot of gold which he buried. The only clue he left was "Stand where you can see five loughs, take eleven strides and there the gold is buried". Since Nishy is also reputed to have jumped across the mouth of the Lagan he must have been a man of great strides.

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