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Archaeologists uncover megalithic monument thought to be unlike any found in Ireland to date

The discovery was made by a team of archaeologists from IT Sligo during a two-week excavation.

5Dig_Archaeology at Carrowmore Tombs_June 19_ (58) IT Sligo Archaeology students Jazmin Scally Koulak and Eugene Anderson sieving the soil at Carrowmore excavation Source: IT Sligo

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION in Co Sligo has uncovered a megalithic monument thought to be unlike any found in Ireland to date. 

Several prehistoric tools made from a hard stone called chert were discovered and are thought to have been used for activities such as working animal hides, cutting and preparing food, basket food, basket working and bone working. 

The discovery was made by a team of archaeologists from IT Sligo during a two-week excavation of a prehistoric monument in the heart of the Carrowmore megalithic complex in Co Sligo. 

Carrowmore in the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland, with 5,500-year-old passage tombs dating from 3,600 BC. 

4Sive_Archaeology at Carrowmore Tombs_June 19_ (50) Archaeology students Jazmin Scally Koulak and Eugene Anderson sieving the soil at Carrowmore excavation by IT Sligo. Source: IT Sligo

Archaeologists Dr Marion Dowd and Dr James Bonsall directed the excavation of a site that was formerly known as a barrow.

Barrows are circular earthen monuments surrounded by a circular ditch. These sites typically date to the Bronze Age and Iron Age, ranging from between 4,000 and 1,500 years old. 

The excavation has revealed that some unexpected results – that the monument isn’t a barrow at all. 

“Our excavations have revealed that this monument does not appear to be a barrow at all. So far, we cannot find any parallel for it in Ireland,” Dr Marion Dowd said.

The team found that the circular ditch surrounded a central raised area that consisted of a thick circular layer of stone. Inside this was a sunken area with black, charcoal-rich soils.

2Chert_Archaeology at Carrowmore Tombs_June 19_ (12) Prehistoric chert scrapers and blades found at the excavation at Carrowmore by IT Sligo. These tools would have been used for activities such as working animal hides, cutting and preparing food, basket working and bone working. Source: IT Sligo

Several prehistoric tools made from a hard stone called chert were discovered within and around the monument.

“We have a lovely collection of chert scrapers and blades from the monument. These would have been used for activities such as working animal hides, cutting and preparing food, basket working and bone working,” Dr Dowd said, “essentially a prehistoric tool kit”.

“We are now focussed on post-excavation analyses of all the materials recovered during the excavation, and hope to have scientific dating in the next few months,” he said.

“At the moment what we can say is that we have quite an enigmatic prehistoric monument: something different and new.”

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