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23 September 2015
Neolithic burials found inside Irish portal tomb

The cremated remains of at least two people have been discovered following an archaeological excavation at a Neolithic tomb in Killaclohane, near Milltown, Co. Kerry (Ireland). Most likely erected around 3800 BCE, this monument represents one of Kerry's oldest upstanding structures.
     Megalithic monuments such as Killaclohane are classified as a portal tombs by archaeologists, and there are approximately 174 of these structures in the country. The tombs generally consist of two large portal-stones defining the entrance and a back-stone, all of which support the roof-stone.
     At Killaclohane the landowner, Mr Ken O'Neill, noticed that the tomb's roof-stone was slipping and that the monument was in danger of collapse. To prevent any further damage occurring to the site a team of archaeologists were called in to carry out conservation works. The project presented serious challenges as a 13.5 tonne capstone had to be removed. This necessitated also an excavation, which was directed by Kerry Council's resident archaeologist, Mr Michael Connolly.
     The excavation of the site took place in July of this year. The cremated remains of at least two individuals were recovered during this work and these appear to represent the remains of an adult and an adolescent. The bones, which were in a quite fragmentary state when found, are currently being analysed by osteologist Linda Lynch.
     A number of artefacts were also recovered during the excavation, including sherds of Neolithic pottery, flint arrow-heads, flint scrapers and a beautifully made flint javelin-head. This assemblage is comparable to the finds recovered from the iconic portal tomb at Poulnabrone, Co. Clare.

Edited from Irish Archaeology, The journal.ie (22 September 2015)

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