Slanes Graveyard & Souterrain

Duration: 1 Hour plus optional 30 min

Starting Point: Road sign for the Graveyard on Ardminnan Road 1km south of Cloughey village

Level Of Difficulty: Easy
There is a gentle ascent to the hill-top site

Dating from the 13th century, the ancient burial ground of Slanes with its church ruins on a prominent hill-top site is a familiar landmark in the landscape south of Cloughey village. It has been the site of burials from pre-Christian times as the nearby souterrain indicates.

On this walk, you will hear the intriguing life stories of some of those whose last resting places are at your feet. Looking upward and outward, you take in a panoramic view of the countryside laid out before you. Read More

  • According to Reeves and O’Laverty the word Slane is derived from the Irish sian which is interpreted as meaning healthful or health giving, a name frequently given to holy wells. There was an ancient well in Slanes. There was an early settlement here dating from the first century. Aerial photography has indicated that the graveyard is in fact the nucleus of a much larger enclosure, which survives below ground in the surrounding fields.


  • The ancient burial ground of Slanes with the ruins of its old church is situated on a rath dating from the Iron Age. On a clear day you can see Scrabo Tower near Newtownards, the Isle of Man, the Mourne Mountains, the Irish Sea and across to Scotland.


  • The graveyard is contained within a circular raised enclosure probably dating from the first millennium A.D. Within it are the ruins of a medieval church believed to be the church of Ardmacosse mentioned in the taxation of Pope Nicholas,1306, along with an unusual cross-carved boulder.


  • Today it is a burial ground for Presbyterians. At one time it was the main graveyard for the Cloughey /Kirkistown area and was also the burial place for many poor sailors who lost their lives on the notorious Cloughey Rocks. Most of the oldest gravestones are of slate and the earliest readable date of death is 1677.


  • There is a souterrain south west of Slanes Graveyard. A souterrain is an artificial cave, built of stone and used as places of refuge and storage or for monks to meditate in. According to local lore the souterrain was used at a time for storing contraband. A tunnel once joined it to the shore which explains why it was also known as a smugglers cave.

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