Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter X

The cromlechs next claim our notice. There has been no question of their pagan origin; and, indeed, this method of honouring or interring the dead, seems an almost universal custom of ancient peoples.[2] Cremation does not appear to have been the rule as to the mode of interment in ancient Erinn, as many remains of skeletons have been found; and even those antiquarians who are pleased entirely to deny the truth of the historical accounts of our early annalists, accept their statements as to customs of the most ancient date. When the dead were interred without cremation, the body was placed either in a horizontal, sitting, or recumbent posture. When the remains were burned, a fictile vessel was used to contain the ashes. These urns are of various forms and sizes. The style of decoration also differs widely, some being but rudely ornamented, while others bear indications of artistic skill which could not have been exercised by a rude or uncultivated people.


[2] Peoples.—See Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, vol. ii. p. 314, where the writer describes tombs sunk beneath a tumulus, about twenty-five or thirty feet in diameter, and also tombs exactly resembling the Irish cromlech, the covering slab of enormous size, being inclined "apparently to carry off the rain. In his account of the geographical sites of these remains, he precisely, though most unconsciously, marks out the line of route which has been assigned by Irish annalists as that which led our early colonizers to Ireland. He says they are found in the presidency of Madras, among the mountains of the Caucasus, on the steppes of Tartary, in northern Africa, "on the shores of the Mediterranean they are particularly abundant, " and in Spain.