The cairn is a small, circular mound of stones with an opened chamber and the remains of a short partially lintelled ‘passage’ which runs off the chamber to the north-north east. The monument was excavated by antiquarians in 1849 and subsequently reconstructed rather haphazardly so that its true form is difficult to discern. The 19th century ‘excavation’ revealed a central cist containing a bowl food vessel and cremation enclosed within a small circular chamber. The cairn was investigated again in 1956 as part of conservation works and interpreted as a Bronze Age cairn with centrally-placed cist burial. A secondary urn burial was found within the cairn.
It is possible that the cairn on Tibradden started as a Neolithic passage tomb, like the 11 others that crown the Dublin Mountains. Many Neolithic tombs across Ireland were reused and modified during the Bronze Age (and even later) periods. Perhaps the most famous example of that later reuse is the Mound of the Hostages (Duma na nGiall) on the Hill of Tara, where a Neolithic passage tomb was reused as an important burial site into the Bronze Age. The cairn on Tibradden offers clear views to the other cairns at Fairy Castle, on the summit of Two Rock Mountain, and over towards the Hellfire Club on the summit of Montpelier Hill, where presumably the cairns there would have been very visible before the construction of the Hunting Lodge.
Inside the chamber there is a stone bearing a spiral motif. Unfortunately rather than being megalithic art, it is thought to have been cut into the rock some time in the later 20th century, by someone inspired by Ireland’s megalithic art tradition.
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