Despite its apparent harshness, the Burren supported quite large numbers of people in ancient times, and has more than 2500 historic sites. Chief among them is the 5000-year-old Poulnabrone Dolmen, part of a Neolithic/Bronze Age tomb, and one of Ireland's iconic ancient monuments.

Around 70 prehistoric tombs are in evidence today. Many are wedge-shaped graves, stone boxes tapering both in height and width, and about the size of a large double bed. The dead were placed inside, and the whole structure covered in earth and stones. Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb, 7km south of Ballyvaughan, is a prime example.

Ring forts are strewn throughout the Burren. There are almost 500, including Iron Age stone forts such as Cahercommaun near Carron.