Discovery of woman and children at least 1,000 years old 'very significant'

An archaeologist has described the discovery of the remains of one woman and two children at least 1,000 years old at a dig in the Burren as “very exciting and significant”.

Dr Michelle Comber, director of the Caherconnell Archaeological School, said there was “an air of excitement” on the penultimate day of the eight-week dig when the remains were discovered.

She said the remains are of a 45-year-old-plus woman, a child aged between 1 and 2, and a baby.

The school called gardaí, who took photos of the remains. Dr Comber said gardaí were satisfied that the remains were ancient.

Dr Comber said the remains “could be thousands of years old but we won’t know for a couple of months until the results of carbon-dating of the bones are made available”.

Caherconnell is located 1km from the Poulnabrone dolmen. Dr Comber said the remains definitely pre-date the building of the fort or cashel under excavation at Caherconnell, which was built around the 10th or 11th century.

Farmer John Davoren admitted to mixed feelings over the discovery.

Mr Davoren — who has operated Caherconnell fort as a visitor attraction since 2003 — said: “The discovery has brought some excitement, but as caretaker of these lands, I feel a connection to the people who have come before us.

“Someone always cries at the graveside and the body of the very young baby would have brought hardship to whoever it was back then.”

Dr Comber said the remains contained in stone boxes or cists were buried beneath the wall of the cashel enclosure. She said the smaller of these two cists contained the remains of a young child with the bones of a baby who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth.

She said the other cist contained the body of the woman “and she suffered from joint disease, probably as a result of much physical labour over the course of her lifetime”.

Dr Comber said the excavation “puts the natives back into the picture of medieval Ireland”.

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