SCENES from IRELAND
36. A Co. Clare Burren car drive from Kilfenora to the coast near Ballyvaughan - part 2 Caherconnell ring fort, Poulnabrone Dolmen and limestone hills and Atlantic Coast
.... Another mile or so up the road brings you to the splendid stone ring fort of Caherconnell which has visitor centre and craft and coffee shops. It is typical of 'Cashel' in the Burren. These 'Celtic' stone ring forts were typically occupied between 400 and 1200 AD. Caherconnell has a diameter of 140-150 ft (~42m) with walls 12 feet thick and 6-14 feet high. Recent excavations in 2007 have found animal bones, iron fragments of unknown artefacts, an arrow head and pin mould. There is evidence that the entrance was rebuilt in the 14th-15th century suggesting occupation of these sites extended to later dates than hitherto thought.
You then keep on heading north up the R480 and after a few miles further north, on your right, you arrive at one of Irelands most famous and most photographed prehistoric sites ....
The Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen (distant top right) lies on the limestone pavement of The Burren, County Clare. The huge stone in the foreground is a glacial erratic, 'dropped' when the glacier's retreated at the end of the last ice age.
The striking starkness of the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a prehistoric burial tomb. From excavations in the 1980's artefacts such as a polished stone axe, carved quartz crystals, perforated bone pendant, stone disc beads, sherds/fragments of course pottery and flint arrowheads and scrapers were found. The bones of 33 individuals were found of male and female, old and young and were probably put in the tomb around 3000 BC. Burials were radiocarbon dated to 4200 to 2900 BC (Neolithic or New Stone Age) and 1767 to 1423 BC (early Bronze Age).
The top capstone of this famous archaeological site weighs 1.5 tonne.
The typical seemingly barren landscape of the limestone pavements of the Burren. When the Poulnabrone tomb was constructed the landscape was very different. Open pine forests with elm and hazel were common and some areas of open grassland. Today's relatively barren terrain is mainly due to loss of top soil in prehistoric times. These early farmers would have lived in simple wooden houses living off crop cultivation like wheat and barley, domestic cattle together with fishing and hunting of fowl and wild animals. Their simple homesteads and subsistence poverty farming sharply contrasts with their elaborate and 'expensive' tomb building in terms of the physical effort and 'engineering' involved. There is much to be admired from the distant culture of our prehistoric ancestors.
After our little archaeology excursion we heading down the road into Ballyvaughan with the limestone hills on either side of the road.
The village of Ballyvaughan and then we drove in anti-clockwise journey on the R477 coast road.
The coast just off the coastal road R477 beyond Ballyvaughan ....
... where the limestone of the Burren meets the Atlantic Ocean.
... with the plant life existing in the eroded cracks in the limestone rock that simulate a model' river.
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