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Tomb Raiding in the Dublin Mountains

Exploring the prehistoric ruins of the Dublin Mountains
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 12.117 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  It is, perhaps, not fully appreciated how rich the Dublin Mountains are in ancient monuments, some of which date back thousands of... more »

Tips:  This is a full day's trip across a varied terrain, although all paths and tracks are generally reasonably well-maintained. In dry... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Start - College Road Car Park, Marlay Park

The trip starts in Marlay Park at the College Road car park, adjacent to the M50 motorway. If you have parked in the Grange Road car park, you will need to cross the park (about 2km) to reach the start.

The initial sections of the trail follow the same route as the Wicklow Way, marked by yellow "walking man" waymarkers.

2. KIlmashogue Lane

Passing under the M50 motorway, the trail follows Kilmashogue Lane uphill.

There are a number of places of interest along the way including the ruins of a former woolen mill owned by Thomas Thorncliff until it closed in 1880 and Saint Columba's College, an exclusive boarding school for boys.

3. Kilmashogue Wedge Tomb

The wedge tomb is found in the woods above the Kilmashogue Forest Recreation Area car park. There is a trail through the trees directly opposite the steps that lead up from the car park.

Wedge tombs date back to the Bronze Age and are so called because of their shape: tall and broad at the front, narrowing and sloping down towards the back. They ... More

4. Leaving the Wicklow Way

Up to now, the trail has been following the path of the Wicklow Way. At this junction, the Way turns right but we need to continue on straight to reach the summit of Three Rock mountain.

5. Three Rock Mountain

The trail emerges from the forest near the summit of Three Rock Mountain where excellent views over Dublin may be enjoyed. On particularly clear days it is possible to see as far north as the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. On rare occasions the Snowdon Massif in Wales can be made out. (The distinctive V-shape of the Llanberis Pass is the... More

6. To Ballyedmonduff wedge tomb

At this junction, the trail makes a side-trip, following the Dublin Mountains Way, to visit the wedge tomb at Ballyedmonduff. Follow the waymarkers into the forest until it reaches a substantial forest road. Turn right, following the waymarkers along the road as it circles around to the left. After a short while, the wedge tomb can be seen to left... More

7. Ballyedmonduff Wedge Tomb

This wedge tomb, known as the Giant's Grave, is in a much better condition than the one previously visited at Kilmashogue and is considered to be one of the best examples of such a tomb in Ireland.

When first discovered in the 1830s and before it was excavated, it would have been covered with a tall mound of stones, or tumulus. These have been... More

8. To Fairy Castle

Returning to the Dublin Mountains Way junction used to reach Ballyedmonduff, turn left off the trail. After a short while you will pass through a fence and out of the forest onto open mountainside. Turn right and ascend towards Fairy Castle.

9. Fairy Castle

As you approach Fairy Castle, as the summit of Two Rock Mountain is known, note that the summit cairn is sited upon a flat circular mound, approximately 25 metres across and 2 metres high. This is the remains of an ancient passage tomb, the easternmost of a series of of such tombs that are found on the summits of many of the Dublin Mountains such ... More

10. Tibradden Chambered Cairn

Another prehistoric burial site can be found close to the summit of Tibradden mountain. The tomb was excavated in 1849 when a stone-lined cist was found with a pottery vessel containing cremated remains.

It was once believed to be a passage tomb and it's not hard to see why, since all that remains is a circular chamber connected to a narrow... More

11. Kilmashogue standing stones

In a field near the village of Rockbrook are two standing stones, each about two metres tall.

Return to Marlay Park along the Tibradden Road. Be very careful of the traffic along this busy stretch. There are a few blind corners along the way which require particular attention.