People often regard archaeology as something unchanging, totally static. They could not be more wrong.
Something new always turns up and changes our perception of the prehistoric past, throwing a light on an aspect about which we thought the last word has been said. Archaeology does change and there is a future for our past.
The known Neolithic monuments in the area are a portal dolmen tomb in Aderawinney north of the Schull/Goleen road one mile east of Toormore Bay, and the recently discovered Passage tomb on top of the highest hill on Cape Clear Island
The most common tomb type from this period is the Wedge Tomb and there are many examples in the area. Altar tomb, on the eastern side of Toormore Bay is now designated a National Monument. Further West is the recently excavated wedge tomb in the townland of Toormore in which a bronze axe was found and donated to the National Museum. A replica of it is now on display in the Altar Restaurant. Other wedge tombs can be seen at Arduslough and in Kilbronogue. Boulder tombs can be seen in Dunmanus East, Lisheen and Coorydarrigan. The famous Mount Gabriel Copper mines are on the southeast slopes of the mountain, south of the gap on the Schull/Durrus road. The only prehistoric stone circle in the area is at Dunbeacon.
There are a number of Coastal Promontory Forts in the area. Two of the most spectacular are at Three Castle Head, and Dooneen on Dunmanus Bay.
Early Christian Period
Ringforts are the most common type for this period. They were the farmsteads of the time and the best examples are at Rathooragh, Lissacaha, Meenvane and Rathruane. There are a small number of monastic sites, notably at Croagh Bay, Kilbrown and Coosheen. A 9th Century church ruin on West Skeam Island was excavated in 1990 and very early dates have been obtained. Medieval Period past 1000 AD Kilmoe church, near Barley Cove has a 12th Century east gable. There are O’Mahony castles at Three Castle Head, Leamcon, Ardintenant, Rossbrin, Dunmanus and Dunbeacon. A McCarthy Castle stands on the seashore at Kilcoe, and there are O’Driscoll castles at Whitehall, Sherkin and Cape Clear Islands. All the castles were built in the 14th or 15th centuries.
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