A large hut circle on the eastern edge of the plateau of Doonaveeragh. The fine view is to the south east across Lough Arrow to Sheemor.

Cairn A
Cairn B
Cairns C & D
Cairn F
Cairn G
Cairn H
Cairn K
Cairn L
Cairns M & N
Cairns O & P
Lough na Leibe
The Caves of Kesh
Kesh Corran
Kesh Mythology
Kesh Cairn
Sections of Cairn F
More sections from F
Section of Cairn G
Astronomy at Cairn G
More astronomy
Sections & plans
Panorama from Carrowkeel


Excavations at Doonaveeragh, 2003

The excavations at Mullaghafarna took place over a few weeks in early summer of 2003. The plateau becomes covered with bracken in late summer, and the hut foundations vanish until the autumn. Three huts were selected from different parts of the plateau and 6 x 1 meter trenches, or keyhole excavations were dug. From the NUIG website:

A high resolution survey of the plateau was carried out using digital photogrammetry. The survey was carried out by Robert Shaw and Anthony Corns, The Discovery Programme, based on imagery captured by BKS Ltd, Coleraine. This initial part of the survey identified 153 enlosures/hut sites on the plateau. The second phase of the survey consists of the production of interpretative plans of each individual site. This work is extremely time consuming, as it involves extensive GIS analysis, followed up by detailed work in the field. This work is in progress. With the main aim to establish the cultural context for the c. 150 enclosures/hut sites on Mullaghfarna, minor trial excavations were carried out in 2003.

A flint knife, freshly excavated from the trench in the background. This piece came from Antrim and firmly dates the site to the neolithic.

All three sites excavated produced finds of Neolithic/Early Bronze Age date. All archaeological material had been washed down into the often deep fissures in the bedrock, leaving no material in situ. To create a firmer chronological framework for the dating of the enclosures/hut sites, even though no material was found in primary contexts, ten radiocarbon dates (AMS) were processed from the sites. The dating was performed by Centre for Isotope Research, Groningen, The Netherlands, and was funded by the Small Research Grant received from IRCHSS. The dates indicate both Neolithic and Bronze activity on the plateau.

A group of archaeology students visit one of the larger huts on the east edge of the plateau.

The excavations proved a number of things. The hut foundations date to the neolithic and so were lived in by the people who built the cairns. This is show by the find of a fine flint knife of a type dating from about 3,200 BC. Like the megalithic chambers on the hill above, the houses were used throughout bronze age, which indicates that the same people lived here and continued using the site. Another thing Dr Bergh proved is that the pleteau was a smooth green field when the hut foundations were built, so the deep weathered karst of the plateau occured after the village was abandoned. This was shown by the lack of weathering or grykes under the walls.

Stefan Bergh and a student excavating a 6 x 1 meter trench across one of the Doonaveeragh huts in 2003.