The portal dolmen at Gaulstown is an early burial chamber, built by the first farmers around 5,000 years ago. The dolmen is a megalithic tomb, built with large unworked stones, including a massive capstone. The small chamber between the stones is empty, but would have been used repeatedly for burials, mostly cremations but some inhumations. Natural caves were used as burial places in the Neolithic period, and the megalithic tombs, with their massive rough stones, must have looked similar. The roughness of the stone belies the careful design of the several types of tomb.
The Gaulstown dolmen is part of a string of tombs between Kill/Dunhill and Waterford. Most are portal dolmens but a few are passage graves (with a low passage approaching the chamber) of a distinctive type similar to tombs in the Scilly Isles. The Gaulstown tomb, like most portal dolmens, is on low ground and facing uphill. Long after they were first used for burial, the megalithic tombs have been prominent points on the landscape, attracting new burials (a cist was set into the ground close to the Gaulstown tomb centuries later) and old stories.
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