Poulnabrone Tomb
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Ireland: Poulnabrone tomb

A 6000 years old passage way into the afterlife

Set 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.

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