Megalithic tombs and storied landscapes in Neolithic Ireland

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Muiris O´Sullivan


This paper is concerned with the storied landscapes underlying the megalithic tradition of the Irish Neolithic. The importance of place is now well established as a significant factor in the distribution of megalithic tombs at a local level as well as the original source of material from which they were built. At one level those places could be seen as a backdrop to the megalithic tomb; at another they could be seen as the reason for its construction or an intrinsic element of the construction ritual. Here we are concerned with the Neolithic mythologies that might have given meaning to ancient landscapes. Although the specific mythical personalities and events through which the meaning of places were reinforced and transmitted from generation to generation in deep prehistory are now lost to us, we can nevertheless hope to identify the landscapes in which such mythical dramas were brought to life in the stories. The paper draws on analogies from Irish mythology and folklore, and examines a small number of Neolithic case studies in some detail.

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O´Sullivan 2010: M. O´Sullivan, Megalithic tombs and storied landscapes in Neolithic Ireland. JNA 12, 2, 2010. DOI: