date from construction layers was obtained during the 1977-1982 campaign. Since
this date is the earliest so far obtained from the Carrowmore cemetery, it is
of great importance that additional data from AMS dating technique will be
available for the interpretation. Half of the monument was left unexcavated for
future investigations. According to the requirements from The Office of Public
Works, OPW, 1/4 of the tomb will be left for future investigations. One
quadrant of Tomb No. 4 was excavated in 1994.
Tombs nos 7 and 27 revealed important information on some of the larger monument types at
Carrowmore, a dolmen and a cruciform chamber. The dates and function of a
series of smaller dolmens, as well as cist-like tombs, are still unknown, and
nos 1, 13, 37 and 56 would provide vital knowledge on the position of these
The fact that tombs
nos 1, 13 and 56 are situated in close vicinity of the Visitor Centre, as are
nos 4 and 51, these excavations also provide a valuable public access
possibility during the tourist season. A section of each monument will be left
unexcavated for future investigations. The excavation of Tomb No. 56 was
started in 1994 and completed in 1995. The excavation of Tomb No. 1 was started
archaeological survey of Carrowmore, Tomb No. 51, Listoghil, holds a central
position for several reasons. The monument differs considerably from other
tombs within the cemetery, both in size and construction.
Its central location
in the middle of the oval-shaped cluster of the other tombs makes it crucial to
our understanding of the ritual function and symbolism of the ritual landscape
of the whole cemetery, and its chronological position is indeed important in
this context. It is the only monument in the cemetery from which you can see
both Ballisadare Bay, to the south, and Sligo Bay, to the north, as well as
most of the other Carrowmore tombs.
The excavation of Tomb 51 was commenced
during the 1996 season, and was continued in 1997, and will be completed in
1998. The chamber, the area around the chamber and a large segment of the mound
are being excavated in order to fulfil three main aims:
to provide valid dates
for the construction and use of the monument,
to provide a clear picture of the
construction of chamber and mound, that can also be used for a reconstruction
of the destroyed, once gigantic mound,
and to provide evidence for rituals and
ceremonies performed at this monument.
For the same reasons, the burial
traditions in this tomb have to be compared to those performed at the other
Megalithic art has been discovered on the front of the roof slab of the
central chamber, and also inside the chamber itself. The more or less intact
boulder circle, consisting of about one hundred large stones, has been
completely exposed, and thereby allows an exact calculation of the monument's
original diameter and size.
After the 1998
excavation season, Tomb No. 51 will be completely reconstructed. A concrete
vault and passage will be built, permitting public access to the central
chamber, and the cairn will be restored to its original size.
There is no
doubt that the actual position of Tomb No. 51 must have been of major interest
in the original layout of the cemetery. This does not, of course, neccessarily
mean that the dominant chamber with its cairn is the first structure to have
been built on this focal spot, as the ongoing excavation also has shown.
Radiocarbon dates from the central chamber have shown that this was built about
3600 BC. On the east side of the central chamber, below the intact cairn, three
large gneiss boulders were found. The boulders form no part of the chamber.
They seem to have been pushed aside during the chamber construction, and may
well be the remains of an earlier megalithic structure that predates the
of burials in Tomb No. 51 are unburned human bones. A piece of a skull, showing
clear cut-marks probably resulting from defleshing, has been dated to the
tomb's original period of use. As the common burial practice at Carrowmore is
cremation, this highlights the fact that inhumation and cremation were both
practiced at the same time within the Carrowmore tradition. From a social and
ritual, and maybe also ethnic, point of view, this is an important contextual
Grange hut site, field systems and megalithic tombs
surveys of this vast archaeological landscape, situated three kilometers
southwest of Carrowmore, was started in 1995, totalstation mapping, human
geographical analysis, phosphate survey and interpretation of aerial, infrared
The hut site is very similar to the Neolithic hut sites at Lough
Gur, both in terms of size and visible construction, and it is possible that
also the Primrose Grange hut site is of a Neolithic date, and thereby extremely
important in the cultural-historical context of Carrowmore.
existence of megalithic tombs, one of which has been recorded as a court tomb,
in close proximity to the hut site and the field systems, could provide vital
information as to the cultural and chronological relationship between the two
megalithic traditions in question: the passage tombs and the court tombs.
the excavation of this complex of sites would again add vital information to
the important question of the economic background to the different stages of
the megalithic traditions on the Knocknarea peninsula, and in Ireland as a
The excavation of the Primrose Grange megalithic tombs was commenced
during the 1996 season, and was continued
in 1997, and will be completed during the 1998 season. Rich deposits of
unburned human bones, as well as artefacts made of flint, chert and bone, were
found in the first section excavated in Primrose Tomb 1. Several chert arrowheads of
outstanding quality belong to the find materal.
the Primrose Grange tomb lacks all features that characterise the Carrowmore
tombs. Yet the ongoing excavation has shown that the tomb was in use at the
same time as the Carrowmore cemetery. A radiocarbon date from the intact
deposition layer inside the chamber has produced a date from about 4000 BC,
and, thus, the date of the tomb construction can be expected to pre-date that
sample. The burials found in PrimTomb 1 are all inhumations, no cremated bones
have as yet been found.
artefacts associated with the burials from the Carrowmore tombs and the
Primrose Grange tomb are also to a considerable extent different. The typical
Carrowmore grave assemblage consists of mushroom-headed antler pins and
stone/clay balls, artefacts that have not yet been found in the Primrose Grange
context. Instead, extraordinary pieces of chert artefacts are found in Primrose Tomb
1, mainly leaf-shaped or pointed arrow-heads.
concerning the relation beetween the Carrowmore and Primrose Grange tombs is of
utmost importance to our understanding of the demographic, social, ethnic and
ritual situation in the Irish megalithic.