Surveys by archaeologist Tatjana Kytmannow has also identified a number of other features, including cist graves, a possible hut site, a section of pre-bog wall, a massive ‘megalithic’ wall structure and a wedge tomb. Tatjana also confirmed the presence of a large, pear-shaped enclosure formed by a low wall that is now largely covered by peat. The wall encompasses the cairn and appears to be more marking a sacred limit than anything defensive like a hillfort, as the enclosure does not utilise the natural defensive contours of the summit. Taken together, it is clear that Keshcorran has an interesting ritual complex, that spans a time-frame from the Neolithic into the Iron Age. The Caves of Keash located off the shoulder of the summit also have a long life span, with activity from many periods of Irish archaeology represented.
The Caves of Keash are identified by the letters A to P, from north to south. Cave J was named Coffey Cave and Cave P was named Plunkett Cave in honour of Thomas Plunkett, both of whom were involved in the first excavations. Some of the caves have more evocative names. Cave E is known as the ‘Hermit’s Bedroom’, a late 19th century account described how a hermit lived in the cave ‘some years ago’, but was trapped during a snowstorm and died of exposure and hunger.
Investigations in the caves during the early 20th century, discovered bones from animals that stalked Ireland towards the end of the Ice Age – with evidence of hares, brown bear, red deer, Arctic lemming and wolves all dating to more than c.12,000 years ago. Human activity has also been identified from many periods, with artefacts such as a Neolithic polished stone axe, a Bronze Age spearhead, early medieval comb fragments and other objects. As ever, it is the remains of the people themselves that tell the most intriguing stories, continue reading below to dig deeper into the Caves of Keash.