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Mini Dolmens - Landscape graffiti - you could not make this up
The 5,000-year-old Poulnabrone dolmen is an impressive sight, one of the most recognisable megalithic tombs in Ireland and a highlight of any trip to the world-famous Burren.

It is understandable that visitors might want to create their own version of the ancient portal tomb. But those tourists were accused of unwittingly engaging in vandalism by erecting hundreds of mini-dolmens across the protected landscape. The trend began a decade ago but has recently re-emerged.

Two miles from the Poulnabrone dolmen, the project manager with the Burren Connect Project, Carol Gleeson, observed hundreds of mini-dolmens inside a roadside wall.

The tourists erecting the dolmens are engaging in a form of vandalism she said

This is a wonderful ecosystem and the erection of these dolmens is like scribbling on a masterpiece.

Ms Gleeson added: that Unique and vulnerable habitats are being destroyed by visitors when they illegally remove protected limestone pavement to build the dolmens.

It is only recently that the erection of these dolmens has become a fad. There is no malicious intent on the part of the tourists. It comes from a lack of knowledge.

Recently school children joined in a project to dismantle hundreds of mini-dolmens which could be seen inside a field at a site overlooking Ballyvaughan, two miles from Poulnabrone dolmen.

John Hehir, who was in charge of children from Lisdoonvarna school, said: "The tourists are so impressed by the real dolmen that they want to recreate their own. :0

[Image: poulnabrone.jpg]

Learn more about the dolmen here:
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
I'm quite torn on this topic as the archaeologist in me obviously wants the landscape to be preserved and untouched but there is another part of me that feels that the creation of mini dolmens by the tourists is a continuation of the use of the landscape and area and that maybe in 500 years time archaeologists will be viewing it as part of the history of the site. I suppose it depends on where they are taking the stone from. Perhaps I don't know enought to make a properly informed comment!
I would agree with Jennie, I am also torn about these dolmens. They extend along the wall (visible in the photo) for quite a long way from the original and I am supprised that this has only just come up as they extended for a long way back in the 90s when i first saw them. Who knows how old the first ones were, they could already be a bona fide archaeological monument in themselves.

How old do they have to be before they are worthy of study in themselves? I would imagine they are taking the stone from the immediate surroundings as the Burren is covered with small fragments of limestone.

On a similar topic what about the Wainright cains? on a number of specific sites in his walking guide books in the Lakeland fells he advises that fellow travellers pick up a stone and add it to the pile he started on the top of the hill. Are these late post medieval destruction of the natural environment or something worth of preservation in itself?

Should they be removed and fines imposed for creating more? Or should they be protected as an historical feature (not retorical, i really don't know)

Landscape is dynamic and constantly changing and I think it would be arrogant of us to claim greater ownership of it than non-archaeologists/historians. However, I don't agree with the removal of mosaics from roadside sites in the Med as souvenirs (as my mum once did, much to my horror) or the leaving of signatures scratched into the stones of prehistoric sites. I think there is a fine line between vandalism and continuing use and evolution of a landscape.
Is this really vandalism / graffiti.... if so by whose criteria ????....can they not be left as part of our ever evolving dynamic landscape.............
The main problem is environmental rather than archaeological. The Burren is a delicate limestone landscape and there have been reports of tourists lifting up and breaking slabs of the limestone pavement to make the dolmens. It is a very interesting use of the landscape from an archaeological point of view, but it's the kind of thing the environmental people loose sleep over (bless them).

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