Neolithic Engagements With the Dead: Mortuary Processing On Bengorm Mountain in the North‐west Of Ireland

Marion Dowd*, Linda G. Lynch, Lara Cassidy, James Bonsall, Thorsten Kahlert, Paula Reimer, Svetlana Svyatko, Ellen OCarroll, Eileen Reilly, Alice Noonan, Fiona Beglane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Archaeological excavation of a natural boulder chamber on the upper slopes of Bengorm Mountain, County Mayo, in the north-west of Ireland revealed evidence for complex Neolithic funerary rituals spanning several centuries. With virtually no subsequent evidence of animal or human disturbance, the site presents an exceptional insight into well-preserved engagements with the dead at a remote mountain location where themes of secrecy, continuity and ritual grammar are highlighted. The chamber was used for processing individuals of all ages but there is a tentative suggestion that the space was reserved predominantly for males. Ancient genomic analysis reveals kinship between at least two adult males, both of whom were almost certainly intermediate to dark skinned, with brown eyes and dark brown or black hair. Both individuals were also lactose intolerant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-394
Number of pages27
JournalOxford Journal of Archaeology
Volume39
Issue number4
Early online date01 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was jointly funded by the National Monuments Service and the Institute of Technology Sligo. M. Dowd would like to thank Pauline Gleeson, Jane O?Shaughnessy, Gear?id Conroy and Michael MacDonagh at the NMS; and Jeremy Bird and Frances Lucy at IT Sligo. Michael Chambers discovered the site and provided support and help at all stages of the project, which was much appreciated. Clare Chambers, John Chambers, Gear?id?n N? Ghr?in?il, Billy Chambers, Tom Dempsey and Sally Siggins provided assistance at excavation and post-excavation stage. Thanks to Steve Davis for commentary on the insect data. We are grateful to Ken Williams and the family of Clare Chambers for permission to use their photographs here. L. Cassidy?s analysis was funded by the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholarship Scheme (GOIPG/2013/1219). This paper is dedicated to the memory of Clare Chambers and Eileen Reilly, both of whom contributed to this project.

Funding Information:
This project was jointly funded by the National Monuments Service and the Institute of Technology Sligo. M. Dowd would like to thank Pauline Gleeson, Jane O’Shaughnessy, Gearóid Conroy and Michael MacDonagh at the NMS; and Jeremy Bird and Frances Lucy at IT Sligo. Michael Chambers discovered the site and provided support and help at all stages of the project, which was much appreciated. Clare Chambers, John Chambers, Gearóidín Ní Ghrúinéil, Billy Chambers, Tom Dempsey and Sally Siggins provided assistance at excavation and post‐excavation stage. Thanks to Steve Davis for commentary on the insect data. We are grateful to Ken Williams and the family of Clare Chambers for permission to use their photographs here. L. Cassidy’s analysis was funded by the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholarship Scheme (GOIPG/2013/1219). This paper is dedicated to the memory of Clare Chambers and Eileen Reilly, both of whom contributed to this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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