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seems to have begun to decline, perhaps because over-grazing had resulted in a loss of soil fertility. Te population probably moved across the landscape over the years (known in archae- ology as settlement drift) in search of more fertile soil.

Our knowledge of the Neolithic has been immeasurably enriched as the bogs have been cut back. Emerging from beneath the bog has been a complete prehistoric world, its fields and the foundations of its houses preserved beneath the turf. Pre-bog field walls, house sites and related structures have been discovered at 30 separate locations. We will doubt- lessly learn much from these about early farming practices and techniques in the area. No very large field systems have been discovered on the mainland so far, though this may well change when the sites are fully surveyed. Many of the bound- aries are closely associated with Megalithic tombs, which may have been deliberately placed on the boundaries between different community territories.

Interestingly, the first published reference to the pre-bog ar- chaeology of Connemara was not made in the archaeological literature but rather in the conversations of a local turf-cut- ter, Cornelius Mullen from Ballynew townland. “Ah…there’s strange things found in the bog by times, they came on an old drain back by the cliffs there. Now, what in the world would that be draining and who built it? Sure there’s none in these parts as knows”. Te drain in question, we now know, forms part of a pre-bog field system and thus provides important archaeo-


logical evidence for early farming in the Lough Sheeauns area near Cleggan. Te identification by local farmers of many of these sites and the subsequent publicity in the local press has resulted in a growing number of other monuments being brought to light, including a number of habitation sites.

Very significant stone axe finds have been reported from

Glann Mor, Carraroe and Indreabhain in South Connemara. Tese throw new light on the archaeology of these areas, which have few recorded monuments. A porcelainite axe head found in Portaigh Seanabhac about 60 years ago sug- gests that there were extensive trading contacts between Connemara and the Antrim Plateau. Mud axes have been found in Carraroe and Indreabhain so these areas may have been in close contact with Fisherstreet on the west Burren Coast, where there was an axe factory in prehistoric times.

Te palaeobotanical (ancient botany) evidence that has been

slowly gathered from the lakes points to a regeneration of woodland cover for the mid and later Neolithic and into the Early Bronze Age. We still have no idea why the first farmers disappeared but renewed human activity appears again in the mid Bronze Age (1500 B.C.).

Bronze Age Connemara (1500 – 600 B.C.) A large number of spectacular, and often very beautiful,

Bronze Age sites have been discovered in Connemara. Among them are stone rows, long cists, two boulder burials, single

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