There still some 500 megalithic tombs in Ireland. They were built about 4000 years ago, in the Early Bronze Age. The wedge tombs are the most common type found in Ireland. They are built in a trapezoidal shape, which means that they are wider in the front and narrower at the back.
At that time, the climate was warmer and people lived in small communities high up on the hills. Their first task was to clear the forest so that they could grow crops and have pasture lands to raise their sheep. They were also skilled builders and communities probably got together to build the megalithic tombs. It is more than likely that only important people were buried there, maybe priests or community leaders. It was the custom then to burn the dead and place the burnt bones beside funeral urns turned upside down. Smaller vessels, containing food and drinks for the afterlife, were also placed in the burial chamber.
In the Dublin Mountains, several megalithic tombs were built during the Bronze Age but all of them are now in ruins. The best preserved of all is Ballyedmonduff Grave, known locally as the Giant’s Grave. Its imposing ruins can be found in a peaceful clearing in the heart of the forest, surrounded by tall trees. It is a wedge tomb and its inner structure is still visible with a narrow ante-chamber leading to the burial chamber. Originally, it would have been covered with slabs and then with a mound of stones but all of them were removed when the grave was open in the 1940s. It was then surrounded with standing stones. Some are still in place while the others lay on the ground, covered with moss.
(With thanks to the National Museum of Ireland for granting permission to take photos of artifacts and reproduce them).