Ballykeel Portal Tomb

Map Reference: H995213 (2995, 3213)

This tripod dolmen stands at the south end of a long cairn. It is formed from two tall portal-stones, with a high sill-stone between them, and a lower backstone, supporting a huge, flat capstone. The portal stones are about 2m high and the capstone is nearly 3m long.

The cairn measures 28.5m by 9m and is aligned NNW-SSE. Excavation revealed a small stone cist at the northern end. It measured about 90cm square by 75cm deep and contained a few sherds of Neolithic pottery, a javelin head and a flint flake. Any burials in either the portal tomb or the cist were probably destroyed by the acidity of the soil.

The chamber of the portal tomb contained 3 finely worked & highly decorated 'Ballyalton' Bowls. Prior to excavation the backstone had split and the rear edge of the capstone rested on the ground. During conservation and restoration the backstone was repaired and the portal-stones were embedded in concrete below ground level. The capstone was then lifted into place.

It is probably one of the best examples of sympathetic restoration.

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