The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
The Neolithic passage tomb of Seefin stands on top of a 650m high mountain in North Wicklow. It appears to be part of a series of tombs, as a number of other peaks in the area like Seefingan and Seahan also have similar large cairns covering passage tombs. This would have been an incredibly difficult undertaking in the Neolithic period. The peaks of these hills are all around 650m – 750m above sea level, so why would they have constructed these elaborate and large stone tombs? When you arrive at Seefin it immediately becomes apparent.
The views are just simply spectacular and some of the finest vistas you can ever enjoy in Ireland. The whole of South County Dublin and Wicklow opens up around you: rolling hills, well ordered fields, shining lakes all stitched together like a well-ordered quilt. It is almost like those who constructed the graves wanted to claim ownership of all they could see. That by placing their ancestors far above the low lying lands of the living, the shades of their forebears could watch over them from their tombs.
But who was buried at Seefin? The tomb was excavated by R.A. Macalister in 193. However he reported finding no artifacts and stranger still, no human remains in the tomb. Perhaps then the remains had been removed in antiquity by the decedents of the tribe; if they migrated from the area they may have wanted their ancestors with them. Perhaps in some remote period the grave had been desecrated with all traces of the those interred removed and destroyed; or perhaps no-one was buried in the tomb at Seefin in the first place, maybe the tomb was merely a symbolic marker in the landscape and never a final resting place? Or perhaps the remains were there and Macalister missed them? Whatever the case, it is certainly strange that 5,000 years ago a large community worked together to construct an elaborate tomb, that was then left empty. Perhaps in the future, a small investigation of the unexcavated tomb of Seefingan might provide the answer.
The tomb at Seefin is a large stone cairn, measuring around 25m in diameter and about 3m high. You can see a number of large kerb stones around the base of the tomb defining its outer edge. The tomb has a passageway around 10m long and opens into a chamber with five compartments. …