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Lough Boora Mesolithic Site
Lough Boora Mesolithic site was discovered by a local man from Kilcormac digging on the east edge of the lake in 1977 when what was first thought to be a stone track way was brought to the attention of the National Museum.
This discovery was investigated and what was thought at first to be a stone roadway was actually a storm beach on the shore of what had been an enormous Ice Age lake, and scattered along it were the charcoal heaps of hearths tended by hunter-gatherers some 9,000 years ago -- only about 1,000 years after the glaciers retreated, a remnant of an era when the Shannon and its lakes - Lough Ree and Lough Derg covered much more of the Midlands than today.
Remains of ancient campfires
Further investigation of the shoreline revealed the charcoal remains of ancient campfires. Around the hearths archaeologists found a whole mass of artefacts, including more than 400 blades of chert and flint, stone spear points, axe heads and the burnt bones of wild pig, hare, red deer, fish and birds.
Everything spoke of a hand-to-mouth existence for our ancestors, of a precarious hold on life in a world of water pools and lightly greened-over rubble heaps left behind by the retreating glaciers.
The campfire sites, dated to between 6800 and 6500 BC, were the temporary campsites of hunters during the Mesolithic age (Middle Stone Age).
Colonisation dates of the midlands
The site itself is not the most spectacular archaeological feature as nothing remains of these encampments. However, it is one of the most important archaeological finds in Ireland. Prior to its discovery it was thought that the first human settlements were near to the coast and that the midlands remained uncolonised. The discovery of the Lough Boora Mesolithic site has proven this to be inaccurate and pushed the accepted date for the colonisation of the midlands back by over 3,000 years!
Mesolithic site location
The site, part of which is now a National Heritage Area, is situated at the end of a 1.75 km walk, which is being developed as a sculpture trail. Beginning at the edge of Boora Lake and continuing through coniferous, oak and birch woodland, the walk ends at the storm shoreline in a remote open area. A stone plaque marks the location of the settlement.
Access to the Lough Boora Mesolithic site is by means of a 1.2 km walk, the start of which is located in the Boora Lake car park opposite the thatched bird hide on the cycle path road.
Images and Text supplied by Bord Na Mona