By Sean Ryan
Excavations of what is thought to be the oldest surviving structure in Kerry have uncovered a burial site which dates back almost 6,000 years.
The dolmen or portal tomb at Killaclohane, Milltown is the oldest such structure still intact anywhere in Kerry according to the county archaeologist, Michael Connolly.
The tomb, on a site between Milltown and Castlemaine, dates from around 3,800 BC and had never been excavated before.
A team of archaeologists recently undertook conservation works to ensure that the capstone on the tomb – which had slipped off its supporting portal stones – would not fall completely and irreparably damage the two upright pillars.
According to archaeologist Michael Connolly "during the excavations, the cremated remains of at least two people were discovered along with a number of arrowheads, scrapers, neolithic pottery and a flint javelin head".
The precise dating of those objects may take several months but they are believed to be from the early Neolithic period.
The discovery suggests that one of the earliest settlements in the county was in the Milltown area when people began to farm and develop ties to the land.
Connolly has described the discovery as "very important".