Turlough Hill – Place-making and Mountains in Prehistoric Ireland

Stefan Bergh


Mountains and high ground are often venerated as special places. It is their enigmatic quality as elevated ground, their prominence and permanence in both the mental and physical landscapes that draws us to them. In this paper the role of mountains in current landscape archaeology is discussed based on their role as places of significance in both “visible” and “invisible” landscapes. The conspicuous mountain of Turlough Hill, in the Burren, Co. Clare has on its summit a unique group of prehistoric remains consisting of some 140 circular houses, a large burial cairn, a multi-vallate enclosure as well as an extraordinary hexagonal stone enclosure. Why did people choose this particular mountaintop as the focus for this extraordinary activity in prehistory? To answer this question, and to elucidate the wider question of the significance of high ground, as well as aspects of place-making, the role of Turlough Hill in prehistory is discussed based on the character of the archaeological remains, but also on the character of the mountain itself and its location in the wider landscape.


Landscape Archaeology, Place-making, Sacred Mountain, Liminality, Prehistoric Round House

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/lac.2014.26


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Copyright (c) 2016 Stefan Bergh

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LAC 2014 proceedings - ISBN 978-90-825296-0-9 - is an open access initiative supported by the University Library, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.