Borlase: The Dolmens of Ireland

Pdf Borlase, William Copeland, The Dolmens of Ireland, their Distribution, Structural Characteristics, and Affinities in Other Countries; together with the folk-lore attaching to them and traditions of the Irish people, Volume I, London: Chapman & Hall, 1897
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Pdf Borlase, William Copeland, The Dolmens of Ireland, their Distribution, Structural Characteristics, and Affinities in Other Countries; together with the folk-lore attaching to them and traditions of the Irish people, Volume II, London: Chapman & Hall, 1897
Size:174.4MbytesModified:10 November 2011, 10:21
Pdf Borlase, William Copeland, The Dolmens of Ireland, their Distribution, Structural Characteristics, and Affinities in Other Countries; together with the folk-lore attaching to them and traditions of the Irish people, Volume III, London: Chapman & Hall, 1897
Size:180.2MbytesModified:30 June 2011, 11:41

The Dolmens of Ireland, their Distribution, Structural Characteristics, and Affinities in Other Countries; together with the folk-lore attaching to them and traditions of the Irish people by the Liberal politician and antiquarian, William Copeland Borlase (1848-1899) was published in 1897 in three volumes.

The work is an exhaustive survey of the Neolithic dolmen portal tombs of Ireland complete with illustrations, photographs, maps and detailed descriptions. The mysterious origins of these monuments were an inspiration for the mythology and superstitions of the native Irish. It was assumed that they were built by giants or great heroes of the past or became associated with the fairy folk. Many were left well preserved into the modern era because Irish peasants believed in bad luck as a consequence of destroying or disturbing ancient sites.

Borlase grew up on his father's estate in Cornwall which was studded with similar ancient stone monuments. As a student he learned of similar monuments across the British Isles, north western Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia . It was clear to Borlase that they were the remnants of advanced prehistoric ancient civilisations or cultures that existed thousands of years before the ancient Roman and Christian eras.

In many parts of Ireland the countryside was cluttered with these structures but few people had gone to the trouble of making them the subject of serious study. Borlase therefore travelled through the four provinces of the island of Ireland doing precisely that and researched the local myths and traditions concerning them. His work is still an invaluable aid to modern archaeologists and students of the so-called neolithic period of approximately 4,000 to 3,000 BC.

Irish folklore concerning the mysterious dolmens and other monuments had preserved some remnants of an ancient pre-Christian pagan belief system beneath the prevailing ostensibly Roman Catholic culture. Later in the 20th century Ireland 's rich ancient folklore faded from collective memory as the country became modernized and educated but was faithfully recorded by 19th century researchers like Borlase. Dolmens and other ancient monuments and ruins continued to be cherished and are protected by the Irish state.

William Copeland Borlase was born into a wealthy Cornish family. His great-great grandfather Sir William Borlase had been an antiquarian and his archaeological work influenced Borlase to pursue similar interests. He was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Oxford and also trained at the Inner Temple, London .

Borlase sat in the House of Commons as a Liberal MP from 1880 to 1887 but he amassed debts which were exposed by a mistress before the scandal forced his resignation. Bankrupt and disowned by his family he left for Ireland . He was later a mine manager in Spain and Portugal but died in London aged 51.


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