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by Andy McInroy
After spending the last two years risking life and limb in the Sea Caves of Antrim, I have recently been looking closer to home for photographic inspiration. Living on the fringes of the Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland, I knew these hills would make an excellent backdrop if I could find some interesting foreground subjects. The subjects that I have come across are remarkable indeed. They are remarkable because they were put here by people living in this landscape over 4000 years ago.
The Sperrins are littered with stone monuments placed here between 4000 and 2000BC. These ancient monuments are called megaliths. They can take the form of stone circles, wedge tombs, court tombs or dolmens. The tombs were constructed as monuments to the dead who were sealed within them. Some of the tombs are particularly fascinating as they often feature capstones weighing many tons, balancing precariously on smaller upright stones. The methods by which neolithic man constructed such tombs is still not fully understood.
In the Sperrin Mountains, many of these ancient monuments are lying concealed below the blanket peat. However in some places the monuments are large and still stand above the bog. In other areas, the bog has been stripped back by archaeologists to reveal the stones again. I have become interested in photographing the wilder megalithics, particularly those which feature a wild backdrop of bogland stretching for miles into the distance.
In October I visited Clogherny Wedge Tomb in County Tyrone. This tomb is well marked on the OS map, although if you want to visit it you'll need a good pair of wellington boots and you should be prepared for a damp walk. After negotiating the bogs, I reached the top of a small ridge where I found the small tomb encircled by delightful set of standing stones. The front portion of the tomb was uncovered. However, the large capstone was still present over the rear section and the upright blocks of the chamber could clearly be seen. There was also an impressive sillstone across the front of the tomb.
I spent an enjoyable hour on the windswept hilltop photographing the tomb. The light was continually changing as the heavy clouds raced overhead. It was a very peaceful experience to be standing on this ancient ground and to be photographing something constructed over 4000 years ago. The fact that this location was so wild and desolate seemed to add to the story of this remarkable place. It has certainly got me interested in finding more of these quiet places and perhaps tackling a short project on these megalithic monuments. Please visit again and I'll hopefully have more to share over the next few months.
Update 4th Nov - Here's some of my latest images
Technical Details - Main Image
Text and photos © Andy McInroy