Work at Ferriter's Cove was triggered by the discovery, by a local amateur archaeologist, of part of a distinctive Neolithic plano-convex knife associated with a series of eroding coastal deposits. Eight seasons of excavation were subsequently undertaken from 1983 to 1995 under the direction of Professor Peter Woodman. An area of 400 square metres below 4 metres of sand was excavated revealing an undisturbed Mesolithic land surface.

The excavation uncovered scatters of lithic debris, hearths, faunal remains, shell dumps and concentrations of burnt stone and some stake holes. The lithics were late Mesolithic in date; their form similar to that found in the North East.The evidence uncovered suggested that the site was not permanently occupied. The stake holes have been interpreted as drying racks for fish. Fish bone from wrasse, Bream and whiting was identified. The shell remains point to exploitation of shell fish on site including dog whelk, penny winkle and limpets. Some human bone was also found. Isotopic analysis suggests a reliance on a marine diet. Some burnt hazel nut shell was also found.

Ferriters Cove is a very significant site in the study of the Late Mesolithic in Ireland and the transition to the Neolithic. Amongst the faunal remains discovered was cattle bone, the earliest uncovered in Ireland dating possibly to 4500 BC.This suggests contact with a farming community though there is still no evidence for Neolithic settlement or farming in Ireland earlier then 4000BC. In a recent paper Peter Rowley-Conwy suggests that the cattle bones from Ferriters cove, the earliest dated cow bones from anywhere in Britain and Ireland may have been imported joints of meat rather then live cattle and indicate connections with the continent.


  • Cuppage et al, 1986. The Archaeological Survey of the Dingle Peninsula.
  • MacDonogh, S. 2000. The Dingle Peninsula. Dingle : Brandon
  • Rowley-Conwy, P. 2011. Westward Ho! The Spread of Agriculturalism from Central Europe to the Atlantic. Current Anthropology, Vol. 52, No. S4, The Origins of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas, pp. S431-S451
  • Woodman,P. and Anderson, E. and Finlay, N. 1999. Excavations at Ferriter's Cove, 1983-95: Last foragers, first farmers in the Dingle Peninsula. Wordwell.

Site Visit

My visit to Ferriters Cove was made in late April 2009.

View of Ferriter's cove. View of eroded stretch of sanddune Ferriter's cove View of cliff layers Ferriter's Cove beach Shell scatter in sand layer Ferriter's Cove.
Cliff face Ferriter's Cove, this area was excavated. Cliff face Ferriter's Cove. Cliff face Ferriter's Cove, this area was excavated. Cliff face Ferriter's Cove, possible charcoal fragments.

Site Location

  • SMR Number: KE042-035
  • Class: Midden
  • National Grid Reference (E,N):32912, 105389
  • Townland(s): Ballyoughteragh South
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Last Updated , Jan 2012
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