John McCullagh June 30, 2005
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Who better to show one the architectural and archaeological treasures of the Hilltown area than local Green Party councillor Ciaran Mussen?  I had the quick tour but am promised the whole thing in the near future.  Ciaran hopes to set up a local walking group and I’m optimistic he will accept a Nyuck interloper too!

Did they have hands this big?

This was our visit to the Goward Dolmen. It is situated just a mile out of the village on the Bryansford Road.  I was overawed at the huge mass of the partly-collapsed 50 tonne capstone. I tried to visualize how our present-day huge cranes might raise such an object more than a metre above ground to balance on the portal stones.  I didn’t dare try to imagine how our Neolithic forbears completed the exercise without the benefit of metal tools, much less power machinery!

Local folklore has it that Finn MacCool is buried beneath. Well, this architectural achievement pre-dates the life of Finn by more than three thousand years, so even if he rests there, the tomb was constructed for people who were more removed from him in time even than we are from him! 

It’s sometimes known as Pat Kearney’s Big Stone, after a local man, of living memory, the last remains of whose former home can be seen here adjacent to the portal dolmen.  There is another folklore tale of the ‘Night Sower of Goward’, a ghostly figure who one time could be seen sowing seed at night from a white sheet in the pale moonlight. He was, it was said, the spiritual remains of a murdered farm labourer whose body was secreted in a local field, until a ploughing farmer came upon the bones and had them re-interred in the sacred cemetery grounds. Only then did the ghost vanish!

More detail of the Goward Dolmen must await your participation in our forthcoming South Down tour!

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