Ballylumford Dolmen – Islandmagee, Northern Ireland - Atlas Obscura

Ballylumford Dolmen

This Bronze Age tomb makes the most unusual front garden fixture. 


An early 20th-century home has an unusual treasure in its front garden. Known locally as “the Druid’s Altar,” the single-chambered grave was erected around 4,000 years ago.

Local archaeological excavations have revealed that people have been living in Islandmagee since at least the early Bronze Age. It’s believed that this dolmen was erected over a burial chamber, though a heavy stone slab now covers what would have been the entrance.

Unlike many sites across Britain and Europe, this one wasn’t quite protected from modern development. Standing right next to the tomb, in stark contrast with the ancient structure, is an Edwardian house.

The quaint, red-trimmed family home is only about two or three paces from the dolmen. The two drastically different structures are certainly an odd pair. It’s fascinating to see these two relics of the distant and not-so-distant past so close to one another.

People still live within the house. Every time they pass through the front door, they get to walk by this wonderful marker from Northern Ireland’s history.

Know Before You Go

Keep in mind that the dolmen is on private property, so be sure to ask the homeowners if it's ok to visit.

The site is located on the Ballylumford road, which is a local scenic route on the way round to the beach at Brown's Bay. The best way to get there is either by car or bicycle. While there, you can take advantage of Islandmagee's tourism trails and visit other sites across the peninsula including Brown’s Bay, Portmuck, Mill Bay, the Gobbins Cliff Path, and the Rinkha Ice Cream Shop.

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