View Full Version : Linkardstown Barrows

09-29-2015, 08:24 PM
Does anyone here know much about the Linkardstown Barrows in Ireland? They are dated to between 3600 and 3300 BC but are single burials in stone cists under round, kurgan-like burial mounds.

Gimbutas mentions them in her book, The Civilization of the Goddess, and attributes them to Kurgan Wave 1, which began about 4300 B.C. Here is the Linkardstown barrows entry from the book's glossary, page 433:

Linkardstown barrows

A type of tomb from east-central Ireland consisting of stone cists under round mounds used for single burials only. These date to the mid-4th mill. B.C. and signal the arrival of the first people of Kurgan tradition as far west as Ireland.

09-29-2015, 08:52 PM
Yep we were taught all about them.

09-29-2015, 09:12 PM
I dont think there is any exotic elements but very broadly the individual sealed burial in a round barrow in a cist does remind me of the sort of individualising concepts involved in the recent paper that discussed similar tombs c. 3400BC-3000BC or so in Italy and southern France. However as it stands parallel evolution seems far more likely to me as none of the materials noted in that paper like copper, pressure flaked blades etc are present. The pottery seems a Neolithic variant and the burials involve some rather Neolithic looking rites. I certainly massively doubt either the Linkardstown cists or the individual cist-barrows/cairns seem in southern Europe around this time actually have any direct link to the steppes. Like Remedello, it seems individualising could happen without any direct influence from the steppes.

09-29-2015, 10:49 PM
I suspect Remedello may actually reflect Kurgan influence; it's just that it was a kurganized culture and not one whose members were genetically derived from the steppe.

I'm not so sure I would write off those Linkardstown barrows so quickly or the ones of similar date in Derbyshire and Dorset in England. I mentioned this over on that endless Bell Beaker thread, but recall that ATP3 was recovered from inside a tumulus inside the cave at El Portalon. I know we don't really know what his y haplogroup was, but what if he really was R1b-PF6518?

09-30-2015, 03:28 PM
Evidently ATP3 wasn't actually found inside the tumulus at El Portalon, so we can disregard that. It doesn't affect the early single grave, tumulus burials in the Isles, however. They're still something of a mystery.

10-02-2015, 12:07 AM
Apparently Gimbutas had reasons for attributing the Linkardstown barrows to intrusive Indo-European elements. This is from p. 216 of The Civilization of the Goddess:

The Linkardstown tombs of eastern-central Ireland are a totally different type [from the Neolithic tombs of Ireland]. These are found in stone cists under round mounds, but unlike all of the megalithic tombs they are not receptacles for communal burials but are for single burials only. The eight that are considered in the Linkardstown group, and an additional twenty-two which are considered related, all contained the unburnt remains of an adult male. These burials are indications of the primacy of males within this culture. A few contained additional remains, usually a child or a younger person, and one site contained a cremation along with the inhumation. Although there may be more than one person in the tomb, the burial rite was performed only once and then the tomb was permanently closed. There is no evidence of an ongoing ritual as is present in the megalithic tombs.

The major grave good of these burials is a highly decorated round-bottomed clay bowl with a horizontal neck. The decoration covered the entire vessel and on all but one, a cruciform or rayed pattern covered the bottom . . .

These Linkardstown tombs are extremely important because they show the earliest evidence of single burial in Ireland and a completely different approach to burial than that provided by the megalithic tradition. They represent the Kurgan (Indo-European) tradition as convincingly demonstrated by Karlene Jones-Bley in her dissertation of 1989. Solar patterns on pottery belong to an alien ideology brought by people who buried their dead in single graves under round mounds. Analogies are known across the Channel in the Rhine and Upper Danube region where the earliest solar patterns emerged in the Rössen and Aichbühl-Schwieberdingen groups dated to the period of 4300-3900 B.C. (see chap. 10).

David Mc
10-02-2015, 06:10 AM
I lived in Central Asia for a few years, and most of the furnishings in my house were either Central Asian or Russian in style and manufacture. From what I've seen, that's pretty common amongst expats. Now if I had died there and we still buried our dead with grave goods archaeologists may well have assumed I was a local-- and it's a reasonable enough assumption. But it would have been wrong. I'm not saying that the Linkardstown tombs are intrusive, but having native bits and bobs in the tombs doesn't militate against them being the graves of newcomers.

10-03-2015, 02:20 AM
More about the early single grave male burials under mounds in Britain and Ireland (The Civilization of the Goddess, p. 219):

Toward the middle of the 4th millennium B.C. a number of changes began appearing in both Britain and Ireland. Perhaps of most significance was the rite that emphasized individual burial, first seen in the mid-4th millennium B.C. in Ireland's Linkardstown burials. The evidence for this is not as apparent in Britain but does exist with such burials as Liff's Low, Derbyshire, and Duggleby Howe. Perhaps the most dramatic evidence of the change of burial rite comes from Whitegrounds Barrow, Burythorpe. Here a large round mound with a central male inhumation completely covered an earlier oval mound which contained the remains of eight people. The earlier mound had a radiocarbon date of c. 3700 B.C., while the later mound produced a date of c. 3340-3120 B.C. These mounds represent two entirely different social systems, religious practices and burial rites. One emphasizes communal return to the realm of the ancestors for regeneration within the tomb/womb of the Goddess, whereas the other celebrates the personal importance of individual males (see chaps. 7 and 10).