Archaeology

This is an ancient area. People have lived here for over 6,000 years and have left their traces in stone, in megalithic tombs, burial chambers and cairns. The area contains the remains of twenty or so large stone tombs. Many of them, such as Ballymacdermot, are situated in prominent positions with magnificent views over the countryside. The monument at Ballykeel is also an outstanding example of a portal tomb and the south Cairn on the summit of Slieve Gullion has the distinction of being the highest surviving passage tomb in Britain or Ireland. Excavations at several of these burial monuments have uncovered stone tools, pottery and human remains.

Annaghmare Cairn

This is located in an isolated Forest area close to Cullyhanna, is described by Historic Monuments as "one of the finest examples in the north".

Ballykeel DolmenBallykeel Dolmen

Set on the fairly level terrace on the western slopes of Slieve Gullion and known locally as 'the Hags Chair', this is an impressive example of a portal tomb or dolmen. Here the huge capstone is supported on two well matched portals and a lower backstone, creating a stool or table style monument, which evokes tales of giants, druids and witches. Unusually for a portal tomb, the site retains the remains of its stone cairn and excavation in 1963 uncovered Neolithic pottery, flint flakes and a javelin head within the burial chamber.

Ballymacdermot Court Tomb

Is located near Newry on a site which offers excellent views of the surrounding countryside.

Clonlum South Cairn

At Clonlum South Cairn, located to the east of Slieve Gullion, you will find the remains of an important megalithic tomb. Clonlum cairn shows signs of the transition between the court tomb builders and the portal tomb builders and is thought to date from around 2000BC. It is thought this tomb depleted in the early 19th Century when its stones were used to build Killevy Castle.

Clontygora Court Tomb

This is another striking feature of the Neolithic legacy of South Armagh, is known locally as The King's Ring.

Killevy Old Churches

Located on the eastern slopes of Slieve Gullion, Killevy is the reputed site of an important Early Christian Convent founded by St Moninna (also known as Darerca or Bline) in the early 6th century. Although there are no remains of the early wooden church buildings, there are two stone churches at the site. The earlier West Church has an imposing 10th or 11th Century doorway and a slightly later round headed east window. While the East Church is medieval, with a 15th Century east window complete with weathered carved heads.

Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone

This is perhaps the oldest cross-inscribed stone in Ireland. The Old Irish inscription 'In loc so taninmarni Ternoc Mac Ceran Bic er cul Péter Apstel' has been translated as 'this place, bequeathed by Ternoc, son of Ceran the Little under the patronage of Peter the Apostle'. If this is the same Ternoc whose death is recorded in the annals in 714-716, the stone must date from the early 700s AD. The rounded face of the pillar is decorated with ten crosses and excavation during the 1960s uncovered a number of stone built graves nearby.

Lissummon Disused Tunnel

Located about five miles north of Bessbrook this is the longest railway tunnel in Ireland, approximately one mile in length, this was one of two tunnels on the now disused Goraghwood to Armagh line.

Moyry Castle

After fighting his way through the Moyry Pass in 1600, Lord Mountjoy decided to secure the area, and the castle was built in less than a month the following year. It stands on a rock outcrop on the eastern slopes of Slievenabolea overlooking the pass and consists of the ruins of a three-storey tower and surrounding stone bawn. The castle contains a number of musket loops and a 'machicolation' over the doorway, from which objects could have been thrown on an attacker. In 1611 it was garrisoned by 12 men under the command of Captain Anthony Smith and a number of settlers who had been established in the surrounding area.

Slieve Gullion - The North Cairn

Set on the summit of Slieve Gullion and approached by a well marked footpath from the forest drive, this is the highest surviving passage tomb in the British Isles. Known locally as 'the Calliagh Berra's House' the tomb consists of a massive round cairn, covering a lintelled passage and cruciform burial chamber, similar in design to the more famous passage tombs in the Boyne Valley.

Slieve Gullion - The South Cairn

A smaller kerbless stone, built during the Bronze Age, lies on the northern summit of Slieve Gullion. Excavations in 1961 uncovered two small rectangular stone graves or cists within the cairn, one of which contained a cremation burial and the remains of a decorated pot known as a food vessel.