Thorsten Kahlert

Project Title: GIS and predictive modelling as a tool for the identification of caves of archaeological significance in Ireland

Supervisor:     Dr. Marion Dowd

Funding Body: IT Sligo President’s Bursary Awards

Description of Project

Over 850 caves are located on the island of Ireland, with concentrations in counties Clare, Cork, Galway, Leitrim, Sligo and Fermanagh. Of these, in the region of 150 caves have some form of evidence to indicate that they are of archaeological or historical significance. Caves have been used from the Mesolithic through to modern times for a variety of purposes ranging from veneration and burial to occupation and hideaway. Caves were of particular significance in the Neolithic and Bronze Age where they formed important foci for ritual and funerary activities, and also in the Early Medieval period when caves were adapted for habitation and storage.

The purpose of this MSc project is to analyse available archaeological data to discern patterns in the types of caves that were favoured for use at particular times and for particular periods. This would include an analysis of cave morphology, entrance orientation, the nature of the cave (dry/active) and the archaeological and topographical location of the site on the landscape. Employing fieldwork and GIS, this data would then be used to locate additional caves that may potentially be of archaeological significance.