History Of Ancient Ireland

There is no evidence to show that people lived in Ireland during the Old Stone Age, the Palaeolithic period. Although Palaeolithic settlers lived in main land Europe and Britain its thought they did arrive in Ireland until the middle of the Stone Age, Mesolithic period.

Ireland is an overflowing treasure trove of archaeological discovery and we have some of the finest ancient artifacts to be found in the World.

Mesolithic Period 8000 – 4500 BC

Believed to have come from Scotland the first settlers arrived in Ireland at around 7500BC. As Mesolithic people they were primitive hunters and fishermen settling in and around the Irish coast. They would have hunted bore, fished for salmon, trout and eel in the rivers and loughs. Fruits, nuts and berries would have also been collected.

Evidence of Mesolithic settlements can be found in places like Mount Sandel in County Derry, one of earliest human settlements in Ireland.

Neolithic Ireland 4500 – 2500 BC

At around 3500 BC the Neolithic people arrived in Ireland bring with them the skills needed for agriculture. With Ireland being a perfect location for agriculture it’s an industry that has lasted right to the current day. Today there is still evidence of Neolithic people in Ireland with sites such as the one in Belderg, County Mayo.

Neolithic standing stone

One of the most unique things about the history of Ireland is the amount of Neolithic burial sites located all over the country. These sites vary from standing stones to the more complex burial chamber such as the passage tomb at Newgrange.

The Neolithic people were highly skilled builders as evidence shows in many different sites in Ireland. The ancient passage tomb of Newgrange is one of the finest examples of how skilled the Neolithic people must have been.

Bronze Age 2500 – 300BC

The early bronze age commenced in Ireland with the introduction of metal working, most likely using copper to manufacture tools. Evidence suggests the Bronze age people in Ireland traded overseas with Irish made copper axe heads and small tools found in Britain.

Some of the weapons from the early bronze age (2500 – 1500BC) include axes, spearheads, daggers and halberds. Weapons would later advance to war like weapons such as swords and shields being produced in the late Bronze Age period (dates). Gold ornaments and beautifully design jewelry were also being produced as was decorated pottery.

Iron Age 300BC – 400AD

The Celts arrived in Ireland between 300 – 250 BC, a much disputed date. It is thought the Celts not only brought a new language but they also brought the idea of using Iron for producing weapons and tools.

Although there is no direct evidence to suggest the Celts first arrival in Ireland sparked the use of Iron this was most likely to have taken place over time.

Celtic artwork on stones at Newgrange

Celtic artwork on stones at Newgrange

The Celts had a distinctive style of artwork that would be found on various things from swords to huge rocks used in burials.

These beautiful designs have lasted the course of history in Ireland with Celtic artwork still being as popular today as it was all those years ago.