Archaeologists excavating the Stone Age cemetery at Carrowmore, Co Sligo have discovered a previously unknown tomb under modern field walls. The Carrowmore complex is the largest megalithic cemetery in Ireland. It is some 700 years older than Newgrange and was built before the great pyramids in Egypt.
The find is particularly important because most tombs at Carrowmore were damaged by grave robbers or amateur archaeologists in the last century. The new tomb will be excavated next year and will be the last tomb excavated this century, as archaeologists concentrate on reconstructing other excavated graves.
Two stone pendant beads have been found at another tomb in the cemetery. The beads are cylindrical and highly polished. "They are of beautiful quality. The stone has not been analysed yet but it could be limestone. We don't have a date yet but it could be approximately 6,000 years old," said Prof Goran Burenholt, who is leading the excavations.
The beads were found in tomb 55, which had been recorded by 19th century writers as a destroyed tomb. When a trial trench was dug this summer, the lower layers were found to be relatively intact. A large amount of cremated material was found and, while this was being sieved earlier this week, the beads were discovered.
Prof Burenholt said "exceptional finds" had also been made at another untouched tomb at Primrose Grange some miles from the main cemetery. A "beautiful arrowhead" and a double-headed antler bone pin had been found. The pin was "unique. I have not seen anything like it before. It is definitely quite rare," Prof Burenholt said. An Internet website has been set up for the Carrowmore excavations and is updated nightly with the day's finds. The website address is: http://www.got.kth.se/carrowmore