We made a 15 minutes stop at Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of many Neolithic toms that can be found in the area. The tomb is more than 5000 years old and when it was excavated in 1986 the remains of 33 people were found, together with pottery, a stone axe, stone beads, arrow heads and more.
The surrounding limestone landscape is also very interesting.
Poll na mBrón or Poulnabrone is one of the Burren's most intriguing sights, and it is on most people's list of things to do. What I think puts a nice twist on it is the time of day you visit. I had visited it on a prior trip, but I recently happened by in the evening and felt the experience was quite different.
In the evening, as the sun is going down and the tour buses are gone, the experience is a bit more spiritual. I'm sure the atmosphere is different in the early morning as well.
So if you are touring the Burren, you might save this one for a more moody time of day.
I was at the Poulnabrone Dolmen in November 2007. They have finally built a car park. This makes it very easy to see the dolmen. In the past you had to park on a fairly narrow road. Hats off to the construction crew. The new car park is great!
The Poulnabrone Dolmen is one more of Ireland's many ancient monuments. It is about 5000 years old, and was presumably used as a burial site. I always find it hard to comprehend just how old 5000 years actually is, and it is mindblowing that something so old should still be around today.
Surprisingly, it does not have an interpretative centre yet. Not even a car park actually. Hope it stays that way. During the tourist season you cannot miss it. Just stop when you see a load of buses parking in the middle of nowhere. Otherwise it can easily be overlooked as it is not very well signposted and just sits in a field near the road, maybe with some cows grazing around it.
When I went there a few years ago people had started building their own little dolmens in a stone field next to the "original". There were hundreds of them in all shapes and sizes, but when I last went there in 2000 they were all destroyed. There are some pictures in the Burren-travelogues below, but they did not really come out very well in the photographs, I'm afraid.
On my last visit in July 2006 there had been a few changes. While there is still no parking the cow field has been "developed" with paths leading up to the dolmen with some interpretative information along the way. The dolmen itself is roped off now.
This is one of the oldest known structures in the Burren. Used as a burial tomb, when excavated it was found to contain the remains of up to 22 people, interred over six centuries. Originally a megolthic structure, it's dated to around 3500 BC.
The site is a good stopping off point for landscape photos of the Burren. It's unlikely though that you'll be the only tourist at this site though - a tour bus was parked at the roadside while I was there, and it can be a bit difficult to get photos that don't contain a coachload of tourists!
I sat in my car in a raging storm on the day I was going to see Poulnabrone Dolmen. I had just about given up when suddenly I found a patch of blue sky moving in. Its like that in Ireland. Within a half an hour, the rain had stopped and I was on my way.
Poulnabrone Dolmen is a very impressive ancient site. You could drive by it and miss it if you do not know what you are looking for. There is only a small area to park your car at the side of the road.
When I made this image, I had walked from the road to the dolmen following the pathway. As you approach the dolmen you also notice the terrain that is particular to The Burren. Thick fractured stone covers the surface of the land. The fractures have widened over time and grass and other vegetation grow in between the slabs of stone. It is remarkable.
The Poulnabrone Dolmen is incredibly impressive. I recommend walking around it and seeing it from all angles. It is as though it changes as you walk around it. Don’t make this stop a quick one. Take your time. Get a sense of the place. Let the atmosphere of this special place sink in. Sit down. Relax. Enjoy.
Poulnabrone Dolmen, on the karstic limestone pavement of the Burren, is one of the most famous Irish dolmens. There are more than 70 toms in the Burren, and this one was excavated in 1968.
The thin capstone sits on two 1.8m high portal stones to create a chamber in a 9m low cairn. The eastern portal stone was replaced in 1985, following a discovery that it was unfortunately cracked. The excavations during the repair showed that this site dated back to about 2500 BC. (Also, the radiocarbon dating suggests that the burials took place 3800 and 3200 BC.)
The remains were found in the chamber, its portico, and in the grykes (crevices in the limestone floor). There were the main body bones of 1newborn baby, 6 children, and 16-22 adults. Only one of the adults lived beyond 40 years, and the majority were under 30 when they died.
It is a great place to appreciate both nature and the history of Ireland. Do NOT pick any plants or stones in the area as those are protected.
The Poulnabrone-Dolmen is the most famous of the various megalith tombs that you may find in this area. The Poulnabrone-Dolmen dates back to 2500 B.C. and still today the scientists do not know exactely, how it was technically possible to build such heavy structures by the primitive tools of that time.
The Poulnabrone-Dolmen might easily be overseen, because it is not directely next to the road, but in a distance of maybe 300 meters - it is always the best to search for other cars and buses and follow their passengers - you will have to step / climb accross a fence of a farm, it includes a small & easy stair !
The Burren refers to a Limestone area covering a large area of the north of Co. Clare. It is noted for its unique flora and fauna and its geoloical features of limestone crevices and caves (most famous of the caves is the Ailwee caves which are definitely worth a visit).
The areas archeological history dates back thousands of years and there is an excellent example of a Dolmen or old burial site. (see my intro page for a photo). Basically a Dolmen is constructed with 3 standing stones as pillars or supports for a very large flat stone that rests on top of these supports. It is still a matter of debate as to how ancient civilisations managed to construct these tombs without the aid of modern heavy lifting equipment.
An interesting point about the Dolmen in the Burren is that many visitors are inspired to build their own mini dolmens ...see photo ...from the local limestone ....if you've been here done that then that's probably your one in the picture !!!
This ancient burial sight contains 16-22 bodies and the burials took place 3800 and 3200 BC. The area is roped off and I've seen pictures from VT's right next to the dolmen but please have respect.
We were lucky because we were the only people there (around 5:00PM) and I have heard that on weekends in the mornings there are lots of tour buses there.
The Poulnabrone Dolmen is probably the most photographed dolmen of Ireland! It looks like a huge stone table and is a portal tomb from late Stone Age. During excavations, it was found out that several people had been buried beneath it more than 5000 years ago.
There's no admission, but also no parking. This means that you have to park on the road, can be a bit chaotic!
A 5000 year old megalithic tomb in the middle of the Burren. It was excavated in 1989 and the remains of more than 25 people found buried inside. Poll na bró means "hole of the grinding stone" and a dolmen is a tomb chamber made from vertical stones with a large capstone. The one here weighs about five tonnes
Like many of Irelands ancient sites you can just walk right up to it as it just sits in the middle of a field.