The siting of megalithic monuments in relation to geological bedrock formations

PhD Candidate: Andrea Watters
Supervisor: Professor Muiris O'Sullivan
Funded By: The Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences


This research aims to add a new dimension to megalithic research by examining the siting of megalithic tombs within the landscape of geological bedrock convergences. The core of the research aims to explore and assess the link between tomb siting and the junctions of geological formations, to examine the possibility that close proximity to the convergence of several types of bedrock was a factor in choosing a location to construct megalithic monuments. It is hoped that this project will illustrate the extent to which prehistoric societies were aware of local bedrock convergences.

Another aspect of the research aims to examine whether stones used in the construction of certain classifications of tombs may have acted as material metaphors for the varieties of bedrock surrounding these convergences; and whether the spatial placement of different lithologies within the architecture may have represented such variations in the surrounding bedrock, and the direction of correlating formations.

The project aims to substantially expand on previous research carried out for my MA, which supported the link between tomb siting and convergences of geological formations in a small area of County Kilkenny. This will be achieved by carrying out detailed survey of all classifications of tombs within the geological landscape of the south-east quadrant of Ireland to establish whether this phenomenon is widely applicable or is regionally/typologically restricted. Data collected from the field survey will be analysed within an interpretive framework to allow the notion of ideologies associated with converging bedrock to be explored. It is hoped that the data and analysis resulting from the project will add to and enhance current theories relating to megalithic tomb construction