Dr Stefan Bergh

Research Burren Turlough Hill cairn

The hundred or so hut sites, cairn and enclosure on the exposed summit of Turlough Hill form an enigmatic group of remains without direct parallels in the Burren, or anywhere else in Ireland. Their dramatic and strategic location at the eastern extremity of the Burren, together with the complexity of the remains, indicates that this summit, and any associated activities, possibly had a significance for the entire upland of the Burren. The location at the edge of the Burren, facing the lowlands to north and east raises important questions relating to identity and landscape. The very large number of hut sites on the summit near the large cairn raises further issues relating to settlement, and the interaction between ritual and secular. In a wider perspective, the interpretation of Turlough Hill is central to our understanding of the meaning, role and use of exposed high ground in prehistoric Ireland.

The remains on the summit have been recently dated to the Bronze Age. The only site in Ireland comparable to Turlough Hill is the plateau of Mullaghfarna in the Bricklieve Mountains, Co. Sligo. This site has produced dates from the Neolithic/Bronze Age. Since the complex has not previously been surveyed, this study is the first critical step towards our understanding of its role and function.