County Clare is recognised nationally for its archaeological significance, with many large and well-recognised sites. Some areas of the Burren remain unchanged since the presence of the first farmer and are regarded as prehistoric landscapes fossilised in time i.e. Parknabinna. The vast number of archaeological sites alone in the Burren make it of international importance, with 300 recorded "Fulacht Fiadh - Ancient Cooking Place", 450 ring forts and the densest concentration known of wedge tombs in Ireland.
The rocky landscape that we see today is not just the result of glacial erosion and natural weathering, but also 6,000 years of agricultural activity. The Burren has been settled since the Mesolithic and is full of archaeological monuments from the stone walled field systems and megalithic structures of the Neolithic, to later Bronze Age settlements, Iron Age hill forts and Medieval churches.
The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses and a ruined Cistercian Abbey from the 12th century, Corcomroe. You can find villages abandoned since famine times and green roads on which you can walk for miles without ever seeing a car. And if you go in springtime you will find rare wildflowers such as gentian and orchids and bloody cranesbill.
This castle contains a 15th centaury residential tower and a 17th centaury fortified house.
Caherconnell Stone Fort:
This large and perfect fort 140-145 feet in external diameter dates back to 400 to 1200 ad.
Slieve Carron Nature Reserve (or Eagle’s Rock as it is known to locals) is state-managed land located in the heart of the north Burren.
It has a diversity of habitats including species-rich grassland, limestone pavements, heathland, mature hazel woodland and grazing pastures. This makes it an ideal spot to reflect on the diversity and abundancy of flora and fauna, and well as a great landscape to help us understand why the landscape management is necessary Aside from its ecological learning value, Slieve Carron NR is also the host to a fulacht fiadh, a holy well, the site of a hermitage cave and oratory.
Corcomroe Abbey ruin sits in the center of a lush valley where a monastic community was able to thrive in the twelfth century.
The abbey was most likely founded and financed by Donal Mór O'Brien, and it went strong for over 400 years - all the way up until the dissolution of the monasteries.
The Abbey sits just off one of the main roads that wind around the Burren. It's easy to explore and has a strong sense of solitude.
It must have been a magnificent place, but all that is left are stone walls and remnants of art clinging to the ruins, the raised arm of a bishop, the bold face of a saint,
the curls on the head a warrior, detailed carvings on a column.
The fishbone pattern on the ribs that support the vaulted roof over the sanctuary, the effigy of a Chieftain king, carved faces and flowers resembling bluebells atop the large columns are amazing.
Corcomroe is a place to walk through slowly... to stop and notice the details.
The Burren has one of the richest concentrations of ancient sites in Ireland. Hillforts, ring forts (or “raths” of which there nearly 500) , a few souterrains and standing stones, but mostly tombs – the few neolithic portal tombs (Poulnabrone) and court tombs (Teergonean), but upwards of 70 of the early Bronze Age wedge tombs (Cappaghkennedy, Poulaphuca, Gleninsheen). There are also scores of holy wells (St. Brigid’s neat the Cliffs of Moher) nearly all dedicated to the curing of one ailment or another.
Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen:
This 6000 year old Dolmen is one of the most famous and most photographed Irish dolmens.
Poulnabrone translates into Irish as 'The hole of the sorrow’s.
The dolmen was excavated in 1986, among the discoveries were the uncrematd remains of 16-22 adults and 6 children and one newborn baby.
It appears the bodies had been burried elsewhere before being placed in the the Dolmon. The dolmon would then have been covered in stones.
It's just one of the many historic monuments dotted throughout this area.
Sea View House in Doolin is on the edge of the Burren and is an ideal base to explore this amazing landscape. Have a look at the Burren Explorer to discover more.