Early Christian Monuments

Beehive Hut, Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry

These huts generally date back to Early Christian times and many are believed to have been the cells of monks, but some may be much older and others may indeed have been built as late as the middle ages. With the severe shortage of wood and clay in the area these flat stones were the obvious locally available building material.

The construction technique is known as corbelling. The walls are built up straight to about shoulder height and then drawn inward, creating a dome-shaped ceiling and roof. When there is only a small hole left at the top, a large flat stone is selected to cover the opening. The method has been known in Ireland for thousands of years, since the chamber of the Newgrange passage tomb also has a corbelled ceiling.

The name, beehive hut, is given to these buildings because their shape is reminiscent of old-fashioned beehives made of plaited straw. Obviously, there were no bees kept in these huts.