Island bones could date back to 6th century

Island bones could date back to 6th century


Coast Guard member escort gardaí and an archaeologist to Mutton Island – © Pat Flynn 2014

Human bones found on an island off the Clare coast earlier this month could date as far back as the 6th century.

The National Museum of Ireland will consider what action might be required following the unearthing of the bones on Mutton Island off Quilty on July 2nd.

Fragments of two human skulls and what are believed to be animal bones were discovered by a man who had travelled out to the uninhabited Island.

Experts now say the bones were part of a previously unrecorded burial and could be associated with a church built on the island in the 6th century.

It’s also believed the bones were unearthed by erosion caused by severe storms earlier this year while the the National Monuments Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has confirmed that they have seen a significant increase in reports of such incidents.

Gardaí visited Mutton Island site on the day of the discovery and carried out a preliminary examination of the bones and where they were found.

While gardaí believed the the bones to be ‘historic’ they sought expert help and two days later, when weather conditions improved, garda forensic experts returned to the scene along with an archaeologist from the National Monuments Service.

The group spent over 90 minutes on the island during which a detailed forensic and archaeological examination was undertaken.

The National Monuments Service has now said: “It was confirmed that a previously unrecorded burial was present and early indications are that the uncovered remains are made up of fragments of two human skulls along with some larger bones thought to be of animal origin.

The remains are located approximately 30 metres from the ruined St. Senan’s Church and while it is thought the remains are ancient and potentially associated with the monument, this cannot currently be confirmed,” a spokesman said.

“No samples were taken at the time. However, the report of the inspection will be forwarded to the National Museum of Ireland for consideration in relation to further action required. Any necessary action in relation to the remains will be decided upon following full consideration of the archaeologist’s report and consultation with the National Museum,” he added.

The National Monuments Service added: “Generally, the exposure of human remains of an archaeological nature occurs infrequently. However, there has recently been a significant increase in such reports due to the severe weather earlier this year, particularly on the western seaboard, which resulted in higher levels of erosion and uncovering of archaeological features than normal.”