Archaeology is the scientific study of past cultures and the way people lived based on the things they left behind. Our knowledge of the past is drawn from written history and the findings of archaeologists who have studied these ancient sites.
The landscape of Kerry Geopark effectively illustrates the area's long history of human settlement from the Mesolithic Period (hunter- gatherer societies). The archaeology of the Geopark area is extensive. Some of the highlights are included on this website. For further details, please refer to some of the extensive literature which has been produced on the topic, in particular The Iveragh Peninsula- A Cultural Atlas of the Ring of Kerry produced by John Crowley and John Sheehan. Pre-historic
Megalithic Tombs Dating from the Neolithic Bronze age, the most common form of Megalithic tombs to be found in the Geopark area is the Wedge Tomb with two located on Valentia Island and Caherlehillian and four at Coomatloukane, near Derrynane. Rock Art Dating from the late Neolithic to the early Bronze age, rock art is according to Frank Coyne, a term used to describe prehistoric carvings found on outcrops of bedrock and boulders. The highest concentration of rock art can be found in the Sneem and Behy river valleys, Kealduff and Fertha. Kerry Geopark is currently developing a series of Rock art information leaflets. Fullachta Fiadh There are approximately 40 of these ancient cooking grounds located throughout the Geopark area with clusters evident on Valentia Island and along Lough Currane in Waterville. An excellent example is located on the Fermoyle geo-trail (please refer to our geo-trails section in this regard). Historic Period
Early Medieval Commencing c. 400 AD, the Early Medieval period represents one of the most significant and vibrant periods in Kerry Geopark's history. The most prolific archaeological evidence from this period are Ringforts; of which there are some 300 examples throughout the Geopark area.
Excellent examples include Cahergal, near Cahersiveen; Cathair Dónall, near Caherdaniel and Staigue near Castlecove.
Early Christianity Christianity was first introduced to the Geopark region during the late 4th century. Throughout the region there are some forty ecclesiastical sites. Probably the best known of these sites is Skellig Michael which is located 12 km of the coast of Kerry. The island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and its striking form has become world renowned.
4000BC : first interference from man on the land
2000BC Celtic invasions caused woods to spread again
Neolithic activity found in 3 sites in SW Kerry
Tombs indicate a "belief in continuity after death"
4 at Coomatlakane, Caherdaniel
1 (collapsed) at Glanlough, Snee
4around Faraniaraigh, Caherdaniel
2 at Boardeen, Caherdaniel
1 (chamber tomb) at Garrough, Caherdaniel
Bull Rock was "the abode of the dead"
Six stones at Garrough, Cahirdaniel- a signpost from harbour at Derrynane to copperworks at Coad?
Stone at Staigue Bridge
Droumtine and Tullakiel stones signposts?
Derrynablaha, Balloghbeama, most notable collection in Kerry. (K159) Carvings executed at different times. A good example of Neolithic techniques. There are similarities between the pattern on the stones at Droumtine, Tullakiel and Derrynablaha.
Caher at Caherdaniel. An older Caher near it. Tolls on Coad to harbour road?
A sacred tree bole existed at Coad.
STAIGUE FORT May have been residence of Kings of Cashel at a later date. A dry stone building built before mortar was used.
Was of military importance: the best preserved and one of the most striking in the country. The beginning of architecture on a splendid scale. May have been built by Firbolgs c 300BC (Cathair Meathais in the Book of Rights). May have had a village of wooden huts within it.
2 Forts at Caherdaniel
Forts at Lohar
Iron Age Fort at Dunkilla Tahilla Sneem
Ring Fort at Lisaree (nr Gortagown) Sneem. Fort of the Kings.
Such forts normally had thatched houses inside the ring and the outside were houses of dependents.