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Poulnabrone Dolmen

The Burren, Ireland

     Solitary, austere, and yet strangely beautiful, the Poulnabrone Dolmen dominates the otherwise bare limestone rock pavement of The Burren—a dramatic karst landscape on the west coast of Ireland.

     The dolmen, a Neolithic portal tomb dating back to somewhere between 4200 BC and 2900 BC, consists of a twelve foot long slender slab of tabular limestone, the capstone, supported by two portal stones that raise the capstone nearly six feet from the ground—the formation creates a chamber in a 30 foot low cairn. While it is one of over 150 dolmens in Ireland, the magnificence of Poulnabrone garners the rock structure the honor of being one of Ireland’s most photographed monuments.

     To photograph this tomb, the final resting place for over 25 of the Burren’s earliest inhabitants, drive six kilometers northwest of Carran where a large car park provides access to the trailhead—from there, set off on foot along the gravel path. After a short hike, the gravel ends and the remainder of the walk is across the famous clint and grike formations of the Burren—grikes are the vertical fissures, formed by water dissolving the limestone along joints, seen running through the limestone and clints are the limestone blocks surrounded by the fissures.

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