Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ireland: north Mayo, Ceide Fields

This is the most you will see at the actual site of Ceide Fields, the largest Neolitic settlement in the world from 5,000 years ago. The visitors center is excellent, and helps you realize the area, flora and fauna, and the development of a blanket bog. And they show a film with wonderful aerial views of this site and others, some of which we've visited.

We walked with a guide around 1% of the actual site, just 5 acres, in the wind and driving rain, but the site goes on for miles and miles. What we saw were three piles of rocks, one of which they feel was an animal pen. And the guide showed us the probing technique used to locate the ancient rock walls beneath the bog.

80% of the blanket bog is water, 1% is living plants, and 19% is decaying plants, the peat. It takes one year to make one millimeter of peat = 1,000 years per meter (3.3 ft.), some of it over 5 meters thick.

They have found ancient cereals coming from around Syria, Iraq and Iran. Some pottery shards consistent with that found throughout northern Europe, showing that it took only a couple of thousand years to get to this part of the world.

No fortifications, and single family farms show that these people lived peaceful lives.

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