An ancient tomb just discovered in Dingle by a local farmer working on his land has archaeologists excited - with the possibility that it could be up to 3,500 years old.
The underground structure uncovered on the western side of the Dingle peninsula earlier this week could be an early medieval souterrain attached to nearby ring forts – or it could be a much older Bronze Age burial chamber.
Archaeologists from the National Monument Services and the National Museum visited the site after being alerted by the farmer. The structure is not deep below the surface, although its presence was never suspected.
Underneath the slab was a lined chamber, and further investigation indicated other chambers. A bone remnant found inside the first chamber is being assessed to see if it is human or an animal.
The structure has been resealed and the exact location is not being disclosed. A licence to excavate will be sought, it is understood.
Local archaeologist Micheál Ó Coileáin described the find as “very interesting”.
The presence of a number of ring forts in the area would lean towards a souterrain, used for storage, for shelter, Mr Ó Coileáin suggested.
There have been a number of spectacular finds in mid-Kerry and the Tralee area in recent years, indicating much older habitation than previously thought.
In 2015 in Milltown, excavation by Kerry County Council archaeologist Michael Connolly at Kilaclohane uncovered cremated remains of at least two people along with several artefacts, believed to be one of the oldest portal tombs anywhere in Ireland.
And in 2011 on the outskirts of Tralee, a double pit alignment at Ballingowan was one of a number of ancient structures uncovered during excavations for the new bypass.
A spokesperson for the Department of Heritage last night confirmed archaeologists from the National Monuments Service and National Museum carried out a preliminary investigation of the discovery . They also said they believe the remains are human and are “ancient”.
Technical discussions are continuing around the preservation of the site.
The Department paid tribute to the land owner for his prompt reporting.