Dr Michelle Comber

Research Burren ringfort landscape

This project studies preserved field systems and their relationship with settlement enclosures. The first year of the project comprised a general landscape analysis and statistical study of settlement indicators within an area of the Burren, stretching from Kilfenora in the southwest to Carran in the northeast. This revealed that many of these settlements were deliberately sited to best exploit the most fertile farmland, while others may have been strategically positioned with regard to territorial politics. Phase 1 fieldwork consisted of detailed digital ground surveys (using a Total Station), and employed a course of field-walking, descriptive survey and photography (ground and aerial). Phase 2 saw the detailed digital survey (using a Total Station) of a preserved archaeological landscape located between the cashel of Ballykinvarga to the west and Leamaneh castle to the east. Oblique and vertical aerial photography supplemented and expanded the area surveyed on the ground. Extensive field systems and enclosures were recorded in this stretch of land. A number of settlement ‘clusters’ or farms were tentatively identified. Phase 3 saw a continuation of this detailed mapping in an area immediately surrounding the cashel of Caherconnell on the northern edge of the study area (using Total Station and GPS). This third year was specifically aimed at tying detailed digital surveying to excavated evidence – with excavations in Caherconnell townland ongoing.