Poulnabrone Dolmen, Clare, Ireland

Poulnabrone Dolmen is without doubt the most iconic and widely known of all of Ireland’s portal tombs. It is situated at one of the highest points in the glacio-karst limestone landscape of the burren. The tomb is dated between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. The site was excavated twice in the 1980s and thirty three human remains were found with stone and bone objects that would have been placed with the burials, these were carbon dated to between 3800BC and 3200BC, there was also a later bronze age burial of an infant. Poulnabrone is the second largest portal tomb in Ireland only overshadowed by the fantastic Brownshill Dolmen in County Carlow. Its capstone is 2 metres in length, 3 metres in width, and 30cms in depth. The capstone is supported by two large orthostats on each side, these are approximately 2 metres in height each. The tomb is situated on the remains of a mound and its entirety would once have been covered with soil.

The excavations at Poulnabrone bring up some interesting opinions about who was interred here and how. It seems that all but one of the adults was under thirty years of age and it appears they were all buried over the same period of a few hundred years. The bodies must have been protected during decomposition as they show no signs of animal teeth marks, some of the bones exhibit scorch marks this may mean they were ritually purified before burial. The items buried with the deceased included jewellery (bone pendants and quartz crystals), as well as a polished stone axe, pottery and other weapons.

GPS: 53.04865, -9.14004

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.