Tag Archives: Newgrange

Grand stretch, in fairness.


From top: Newgrange; County Meath Poulnabrone portal tomb, County Clare

This afternoon.

Further to research by Trinity College Dublin revealed yesterday attempting to settle the question of the origins of Ireland’s prehistoric society…

…Historian Alison Sheridan, in Nature, writes:

The authors’ findings address key issues, such as the insularity of Ireland’s Mesolithic population, the immigration of Neolithic farming groups and the farmers’ relationship with the indigenous Irish Mesolithic fisher-hunter-foragers.

…The genetic data obtained from human remains dating to around 4700 bc (from Killuragh Cave, County Limerick, in southwest Ireland) and to around 4100 bc (from Sramore Cave, County Leitrim, in the northwest and Stoneyisland, County Galway, in the west) are the first DNA results for Ireland’s hunter-fisher-forager groups.

These Mesolithic Irish people were genetically distinct from their Mesolithic neighbours across the Irish Sea in Britain, suggesting a prolonged period of genetic isolation after these people sailed across to Ireland around 8000 bc.

..analysis of remains from Poulnabrone portal tomb (a single-chamber monument with a huge capstone and tall entrance stones) in County Clare, western Ireland, reveals the appearance of new genomic signatures.

This indicates the arrival in Ireland of people from elsewhere, from at least as early as 3800 bc, and is consistent with the idea that farming was brought to Ireland by immigrants.

[the] report has many other fascinating insights, including data on the probable skin, hair and eye colour of the ancient individuals, and the world’s earliest definitive evidence (dated to 3629–3371 bc) for a case of Down’s syndrome — in an infant boy, buried at Poulnabrone portal tomb.


…there are also contentious issues, not least the use of social-evolutionary terminology. For example, it is questionable to characterize the society of those responsible for building the major Brú na Bóinne passage tombs as possessing attributes found in early state societies and their precursors, with all that that implies in terms of bureaucracy, centralized power structures and so on.

Moreover, in emphasizing the genetic affinities between Irish and British Neolithic farmers and those in Iberia (Spain and Portugal), the authors seem to fall into the trap of assuming that Ireland’s farmers had sailed up from Iberia — an argument for which there is no archaeological evidence….


Last night: Hillbillies

Incest uncovered at the elite prehistoric Newgrange monument in Ireland (Alison Sheridan, Nature)

Pics: wikimedia

Newgrange, County Meath

This afternoon.

Via Mail Online:

Little had been known, however, about the prehistoric society that assembled this monument and other — prompting archaeologists and geneticists to analyse the genomes of 44 neolithic individuals from sites across Ireland.

Among these was the inbred individual that had been found buried in the most ornate recess of the Newgrange tomb — and likely belonged to a dynastic elite.

‘I’d never seen anything like it. We all inherit two copies of the genome, one from our mother and one from our father,’ said paper author and geneticist Lara Cassidy of Trinity College Dublin.

‘Well, this individual’s copies were extremely similar, a tell-tale sign of close inbreeding.’

‘In fact, our analyses allowed us to confirm that his parents were first-degree relatives.’

Ah here.

Ireland’s ancient kings married their sisters and fathered inbred children to maintain dynastic bloodlines, analysis of 5,000-year-old genomes found in Newgrange passage tomb reveals (MailOnline)

Genetics study shines light on early periods of Ireland’s human history (RTÉ)

Pic: Getty

Thanks Charger Salmon

Newgrange, Co Meath

This afternoon.

On the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

Wexford archaeologist Colm Moriarty, of the excellent blog Irish Archaeology, shares his thoughts about the building of the passage tomb in Newgrange, Co Meath…

Irish Archaeology

Pic: Our Irish Heritage


Near Newgrange, County Meath

Mythical Ireland writes:

“I’m shaking with excitement as I write this….

Myself and Ken Williams of Shadows and Stone imaged some very substantial and previously unrecorded features in the fields near Newgrange this evening.

They look like giant henges or enclosures…

If these turn out to be substantial discoveries, then I would be nothing short of utterly elated, chuffed and excited.

We’re already discussing them with an archaeologist and to say he’s very excited is a huge understatement!”

Mythical Ireland (Facebook)

Newgrange digs are expected to reveal an ‘extraordinary’ find (The Irish Times)