Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Jones, C.
Megaliths, Societies, Landscapes, Conference of the DFG Priority Programme 1400, Kiel
Regional traditions and distant events - Parknabinnia and other atypical court tombs in North Munster, western Ireland
Christian-Albrechts-Universität, Kiel, Germany
Invited Paper
Optional Fields
Regional traditions and distant events – Parknabinnia and other atypical court tombs in north Munster, western Ireland.  In the northern part of the province of Munster in western Ireland, there at least four atypical court tombs that may belong to a distinct regional tradition. These atypical court tombs, along with other court tombs throughout Ireland, appear to have been initially used c. 3700-3570 BC. The north Munster atypical court tombs are characterized by very narrow, straight-sided ‘courts’, short heel-shaped cairns, and a gallery of two chambers. Interestingly, dating evidence from one of these tombs, Parknabinnia, indicates that shortly after c. 3000 BC, its rear chamber was blocked and only the front chamber continued to receive deposits. Somewhat earlier, sometime in the second half of the 4th millennium BC, deposits seem to have ceased at the nearby Poulnabrone portal tomb. Looking beyond north Munster, the late 4th millennium BC appears to have been the era of construction of some of the massive, developed passage tombs elsewhere in Ireland such as the Boyne Valley in eastern Ireland. Various interesting questions are raised, particularly in the areas of social differentiation and the construction of identities. For instance:  Are the distinctive north Munster atypical court tombs the result of an isolated population? If so, how should we explain the north Munster portal tombs and other monuments that seem to indicate connections with areas farther afield? Also, are the patterns of construction, use, blocking, and disuse evident in the north Munster megaliths related to events farther afield such as the construction of massive passage tombs in distant parts of Ireland and beyond? If so, what might this tell us about different scales and layers of identity in the Neolithic? As a first step, this paper discusses the architecture and dating of these north Munster atypical court tombs and then places them in the wider context of contemporary megalithic activity in Ireland.
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