Monday, October 25, 2004

This is a dolmen (ancient burial site) in the Burren, an odd and wild place in the west of Ireland. It's called Poulnabrone Dolmen, and is very well known and very old. We went there on a very cold and wet day, so did not stay long, but it is a fascinating site.

The thing that interested me most, actually, was the ground. To quote from the Burren website I linked to above: It is composed of limestone pavements, which are eroded in a distinctive pattern known as karren. This pavement is crisscrossed by cracks known as grykes and underneath the pavement there are huge caves and rivers that suddenly flood when it rains. What it looked like to me was as if giant blobs of heated rock had been thrown upon the ground by some sky god and left to cool where they splatted, which made this really wierd landscape of shapes broken up by bits of earth and sod. We had to pick our way carefully across it, as it was a bit slippery and treacherous and you could easily fall into the cracks. The rocks were rounded and melty looking, though. It was nifty.

The Burren had been heavily populated thousands of years ago, but too many years of over-planting and grazing eroded the thin topsoil and left the rocks exposed. Interesting, isn't it, that damage to the landscape done thousands of years ago still remains and is revered as a heritage site? I wonder what they will think of us in 5000 years......

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