The Burren, Co. Clare

The earliest evidence for occupation on Roughan Hill comes from the excavation of the Neolithic Cl 153 court tomb where radiocarbon dates suggest that it was constructed and first used in the Early Neolithic, sometime in the early to mid 4th millennium BC. The remains of at least twenty individuals were recovered. Males, females, adults and sub-adults were all present and the monument seems to have served as a focal point for a small-scale segmentary society. Most of the bone deposits seem to be the result of successive inhumations of single bodies which were then re-arranged and moved when they were in advanced stages of decomposition. Sometime around c. 3095 – 2765 BC the back chamber was blocked off, but the front chamber continued to be used into the first half of the third millennium BC. There are several interesting aspects of the architecture of the tomb including a very narrow ‘court’ and a short, heel-shaped cairn – both of which seem to be features of a local variant type of court tomb.

Principle Investigator
Carleton Jones (NUI Galway)

Royal Irish Academy



Plan of the excavated Parknabinnia atypical
court tomb on Roughan Hill (Cl 153)
(plan by J. Kenney & J. Beckett)

Excavating the bone deposits in the
Parknabinnia court tomb.

Related Publications

Jones, C. (forthcoming) Regional traditions and distant events – Parknabinnia and other atypical court tombs in north Munster, western Ireland (paper presented at the ‘Megaliths, Societies, Landscapes – Early Monumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe’ conference, June 2015, Kiel, Germany).

Beckett, J. (2011) Interactions with the Dead: A Taphonomic Analysis of Burial Practices in Three Megalithic Tombs in County Clare, Ireland. European Journal of Archaeology 14 (3), 394-418.

Beckett, J., Jones, C. (2002) 'Preliminary assessment of the bone remains at the Parknabinnia chambered tomb (Cl 153) on Roughan Hill' The Other Clare 26 .

Jones, C. (2003) 'Neolithic beginnings on Roughan Hill and the Burren' In: Armit, I.; Murphy, E.; Nelis, E.; Simpson, D (eds). Neolithic Settlement in Ireland and Western Britain, 188-94. Oxford: Oxbow.

Jones, C., Gilmer, A. (1999) 'First Seasons Excavation at Cl 153 a Court Tomb on Roughan Hill, and the Expansion of the Settlement and Field Wall Survey' The Other Clare 23.

Schulting, R., E. Murphy, C. Jones, G. Warren (2011) 'New dates from the north and a proposed chronology for Irish court tombs'. Proceedings Of The Royal Irish Academy, 112C :1-60.