Ireland: Poulnabrone tomb
A 6000 years old passage way into the afterlife
on an expansive limestone landscape in the midst of the Burren,
Poulnabrone is an impressive, well preserved and much visited
megalithic tomb, thought to be nearly 6.000 years old.
Wedge-like in design and aligned with
the heavens, Poulnabrone is a portal tomb that served as a passage
way into the afterlife for early Irish settlers. Poulnabrone’s
simple, iconic image has an enduring appeal.
Portal tombs were built by the early
farming communities that flourished across Ireland some 5.000 years
ago. Built during the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, when the practice
of farming was first established in Ireland, Poulnabrone is one of
the best preserved examples of such portal tombs. When the rocks to
Poulnabrone were first erected, the Irish landscape that surrounded
it would have looked vastly different. Open mixed forests with pine,
elm and hazel would have covered the land, far different from the
barren landscape found in the Burren today.
Much of the social and religious
significance of Poulnabrone remains a mystery. It is not known how
many spirits would have passed through such tombs. Recent
excavations revealed that between 16 and 22 adults and 6 juveniles,
including a newborn baby, were buried at Poulnabrone. Radiocarbon
dating suggests that Poulnabrone burials took place 3800 and 3200
BC. Certainly there are far easier ways to bury the dead, so
Poulnabrone is generally considered to contain the remains of
special dead and to have been a center for ceremony and symbolism.
That Poulnabrone was built at all, and to such an impressive scale,
suggests these tombs were powerful and symbolic to a people who were
keenly aware of their own spirituality.
Press F11 to see the full screen.
In the slideshow window you can start or stop the slideshow
with the space bar.
You can also use the arrow keys <- -> (on your keyboard or
or the mouse wheel for step by step viewing.