The prehistoric settlements have been largely overlooked since the discovery of the hundreds of boulder monuments and associated rock art. Yet these present an extremely important context for the monuments as they are probably the only means available to date the whole complex and they promise to help the understanding of the community that are responsible for this complex. The fact that it resembles a village rather than a farming community suggests a tribe dedicated to creation of this sacred site.
There can be little doubt that most of the monuments and rock art are closely associated and in most cases incorporated in the settlements. The settlement features can be roughly dated to the prehistoric by geological evidence – soil erosion and pedestal analysis. What is missing is any archaeologists interested in excavation and an a less justifiable lack of interest by the Geopark.
Within the Cavan Burren Park itself there are more than 50 hut sites and over 10km of prehistoric walls. The most dense concentration is within a small 500 metre square area around the round enclosure with over 20 huts and their small enclosed ‘gardens’. Some of these are multi-roomed the most spectacular is Hut 11, ‘Taj Mahal’, with five rooms. The round enclosure has two huts built into the circular wall, one of these has three rooms. It is very hard to photograph these as they are ‘green features in a green background’ but 3D photogrammetry helps to show what remains of these enigmatic features. An excavation would show a lot more – yet great care has been exercised by the discoverers to avoid any intrusive removal of vegetation.
Nowhere else in Europe is rock art to be found in the context of settlement features in such numbers. In addition to the rock art there is a variety of boulder monuments and a form of rock art, sculptings, as yet generally unknown to archaeologists. The extensive area covered by the settlement features and boulder monuments can be described as the ‘other’ Cavan Burren as it is slightly of the ‘beaten track’.
(Click to enlarge)
The following are a few examples of the main hut sites in Burren. Refer to book for full list of huts.
(Note very few huts display any discernible surface features as they are mostly foundations only and usually covered in thick soil and vegetation)
Huts 8 -13
Hut 11 is close 704 boulder monument – it is the most spectacular and contains five rooms.
Hut 2, along with Hut 1, is built into the wall of the Round Enclosure.
Hut 12 is close to Hut 11 and 704 boulder monument.
Hut 3 is outside, but close to, the Round Enclosure.
Hut 27 is the first hut site on entering Burren.