Photographer's Note

Probably the most famous of the megalithic "portal" tombs in The Burren. Poulnabrone (The Hole of the Sorrows), sometimes called the Dolmen (lit. "stone table") first came into use as a burial site and a place of worship and sacrifice probably between 4200-2500 BC! The dates are somewhat in dispute. Because one of the stones was cracked, restoration was attempted in 1985, and during this time excavations uncovered the uncremated remains of men, women and children in the chamber, the portico and the crevices in the limestone floor. Specifically, there were the bones of a newborn baby (interred later than the others, probably during the Bronze Age, about 1700 BC), six juveniles and between 16 and 22 adults, only one of which was older than 40. Most were under age 30. Most of the children were between age 5 and 15. Analysis of the bones indicates that they were probably not "royalty," as their bones indicated significant wear and a rather sparse diet consisting mostly of cereal grains. The tip of a flint arrowhead was found embedded in a hip of one of the skeletons. Others had healed skull and rib fractures. The bones had been defleshed, possibly by exposure or burial(elsewhere) and then interred in the Poulnabrone chamber. It's unclear why some persons were interred in these large tombs and not all of them; it's possible that they were chosen for some special purpose for interrment in such a prominent location. A number of grave goods were also found with the bones, including a polished stone axe, stone beads, a bone pendant, quartz crystals, weapons, tools and pottery. Curiously, animal bones (such as cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, dogs, small rodents and birds) were also found in the grykes, or crevices in the limestone. It's believed that the people were Neolithic farmers and pastoralists. Most of the adults had some type of arthritic condition; life expectancy was evidently short, considering the age at death. There are over 70 such neolithic tombs located in the Burren, and around 170 in total but this is one of the most famous. The capstone rests on two six-feet high "portal" stones to create a chamber.

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Viewed: 2009
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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1188] (2104)
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