Ashleypark Burial Mound, Tipperary, Ireland

Ashleypark Burial Mound is situated in north Tipperary, near Lake Ourna, and can be dated to at least 3350 BC due to carbon dating of one of the remains contained within. This tomb has been referred to both a Linkardstown-type cist tomb and also a passage tomb. Linkardstown tombs are named after a burial found in Carlow and there are several of these type of tombs in south Leinster and North Munster. They usually consist of three straight sides (in essence somewhat box like) but no chambers, and also usually contain one burial but this is not always the case. Several researchers believe that the tomb at Ashleypark is just a simplified or undifferentiated passage tomb but others believe that its differences though subtle may show distinct and diverse beliefs and customs of those who built them.

This tomb was only discovered in late February 1980 when work was undertaken to bulldoze the mound and overgrowth that once enclosed it. The tomb had never been recorded on ordnance survey maps for over 200 years as it was in the confines of a six-acre wood known locally as the ‘oakwood’ which may have obscured its imprint. The mound at the centre is 26 metres in diameter and 5 metres in height, it is surrounded by two low wide banks with internal ditches, with the tomb enclosed this covers an area of around 90 metres in diameter. At the time of discovery the mound was entirely covered with stones and clay. The passage into the tomb is unusually off centre and measures 5 metres in length, around 1.3 metres in width at its entrance, widening to 2.3 metres at its rear. Its positioning off centre could mean another passage may be within the mound but excavation of this has not taken place. The large roof stone of the tomb has collapsed inwards and alongside other fragments makes investigation difficult. The bones of an adult male aged around 60, a child of 4/5 and an infant 8 months old were found along with a Neolithic ‘jug’ and a large quantity of animal bones (over 300 cattle bones). The age of the adult male found within the tomb is significant as he lived far beyond the average age at that time, so may have been a person of high importance, also the large amount of cattle bones with cut marks could be evidence of a feast prior to burial. To the rear of the tomb is a large pile of boulders which may well have once sat on top of the mound covering the chamber.

Ashleypark is a wonderful site, though quite ruinous and hard to fully experience unless in person as the contours of the land and the ditches and mounds that surround it really give an inkling of how important a site this must once have been.

GPS: 52.93388, -8.18886

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