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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan

Part 1: Commentary: Prehistoric and early Christian sites: Ring Barrows

Two such sites have been recorded from the Barony of Bunratty Lower:-

  Sooreeny, Site catalogue 1.310 (now levelled).
Site catalogue 1.580.


In general ring-barrows may be defined as:
“ A mound, usually of earth, heaped over burial places (was) in use from Neolithic times… though (they) were typically a feature of Bronze Age burial, and usually covered a single grave…”
                                 Ville, 1971, 43.

These barrows may have had an internal ditch, and bank, features well represented at Glennagross.

Neither of the local examples have been excavated thus, again, we have to look outside the area for information on barrow date and features.

Much of the excavation of Irish ring-barrows has been concentrated in Counties Limerick, Mayo and Galway (O’Riordain, 1979 138-142).

Pottery of Neolithic type has come from excavated barrows at Rathjordan, Co. Limerick. Two sites, at Ballingoola in the same county, yielded finds of Neolithic/early Bronze Age transition, while early Bronze Age pottery sherds were also noted at Rathjordan from barrows in the vicinity of those that produced the Neolithic sherds. The continuation of ring-barrows into the Middle Bronze Age is shown by excavation results from Lissard, Co. Limerick; Carrowjames, Co. Mayo and Carrowbeg, Co. Galway.

While cremations and inhumations were found in association with these excavated examples, the former was the more dominant practice.

There is some evidence of the use, and presumably construction, of ring-barrows into the Iron Age. A barrow at Carrowjames, Co. Mayo, yielded finds associated with the Iron Age. Pieces of iron were also found in a barrow at Pollacorragune, near Tuam, Co. Galway and this site is said to be “post-Bronze Age in date” (O’Riordain, 1979, 140).

From this evidence it seems clear that while ring-barrows may have had their origin in Neolithic times and continued into the Iron Age, their main period of construction was the Bronze Age, particularly its early and mid periods.