New Book On Early Neolithic Portal Tombs Near Milltown

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THE story of the excavations at some of the oldest extant monuments in Ireland is told in a new book published by Kerry County Council.

The portal tombs at Killaclohane near Milltown date to around 3,700 BC at the beginning of the Neolithic Period in Ireland and are considered to be among the most important archaeological features of the Kerry and Irish landscape.

The tombs are considered to be monuments to the end of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle which had persisted for thousands of years, and the transition to and adoption of agriculture, which heralded an end to a nomadic existence and the adoption of the settled way of life.

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The portal tomb known as Killaclohane I is the oldest extant monument in Kerry. In 2015, after nearly 6,000 years marking the passing of people and time, it was discovered to be in danger of imminent collapse.

The portal tomb known as Killaclohane I is the oldest extant monument in Kerry.

Kerry County Council stepped in to fund the conservation and excavation of the monument and continued to fund further excavations at another nearby tomb, known as Killaclohane II which is situated within Killaclohane Wood (pictured below).


The project, overseen by Kerry County Archaeologist, Dr Michael Connolly, included excavation, research and analysis of the material and data recovered from the tombs.

A wide range of significant items were uncovered, including finely crafted flint tools and weapons as well as Neolithic pottery and provided significant evidence about how the tombs were constructed.

‘The excavations also showed that the tombs had a long history of reuse both for burial and as focal points in the landscape used to create lineages and connections to both the peoples of the past and, more importantly, the land itself, said Michael.

‘The new book Stone, Bone & Belonging presents the results of six years of excavation and research in a clear and informative way that is accessible to both the academic and general reader.

It details the history of research into portal tombs in Ireland and places the tombs in their geological and archaeological context before detailing the excavations of the tombs,’ he said.

Detailed dating and discussion of the results of the research is accompanied by comprehensive analysis of the finds and environmental data by recognised experts in their various fields, all in a fully illustrated and beautifully produced hardback volume.

The book comprises 334 pages, 160 full colour plates and 67 figures and is available to purchase for just €20 from Kerry County Museum, Ashe Memorial Hall, Tralee (P&P €9 extra) in person or by phone on 066 7127777.

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