Landowner denies megalithic dolmen was damaged by works

Larry Brennan says listed monument is ‘grand’ despite claims by tourism association

The Castletimon Dolmen at Castletimon, Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow.

The Castletimon Dolmen at Castletimon, Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow.

 

A Co Wicklow landowner has denied recent earthworks on his land damaged a megalithic dolmen which is a listed national monument.

Larry Brennan, who owns land at Castletimon, near Brittas Bay, between the coast road and the N11, says the dolmen in his field is “grand” and “there’s no problem at all”.

However, Stephen Brennan (no relation), of the Brittas Bay Tourism Association, said a digger had removed a lot of stone and soil from around the dolmen.

“What was removed would have contained Bronze Age artefacts,” he said.

Burial chamber

The dolmen is known locally as the Grave of the Princess.

Dolmens are tombs which, when intact, comprise two, three or four large upright stones, often slab-like, capped by another stone to create a burial chamber.

The Castletimon dolmen is a listed national monument (WI036-008) and, according to Stephen Brennan, is one of only four on the east coast.

“This dolmen is one of Wicklow’s oldest human structures. Archaeologists say that the burial is likely to still be there as it has never been archaeologically dug.”

The site of the dolmen degenerated over many years and had become somewhat overgrown in recent times, compared with the 1930s and 1940s when it stood accessible in an open field.

The dolmen’s cap stone has fallen, probably centuries ago.

Nonetheless, Stephen Brennan said the dolmen was of major significance.

The precise circumstances of the earthworks in the field is unknown.

Archaeologists from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht made an early inspection, having been alerted by Stephen Brennan, and were at the site again on Thursday.

Larry Brennan has said that “everything has been blown out of proportion” and “just a few stones were removed”.

He said the field had been tilled for years and that was what had happened in this case.

Archaeologists

According to a poem, The Legend of Castletimon,

“By the princess’s dolmen, when twilight shadows creep softly o’er the hill, thoughts turn to melancholy: true lovers wander by her grave and dream as lovers will.

“Then, when the winds sing through the trees send forth a plaintive lay, they whisper ‘Mauve still morns her love’ by lonely Brittas Bay.”