The Republic of Ireland, which is the majority of the island of Ireland, is located off the coast of England and Wales. Its capital, Dublin, is the birthplace of writers like Oscar Wilde and is the home of Guinness. Often referred to as the "Emerald Isle” due to its lush landscape, the country is dotted with beautiful castles, such as the medieval Cahir Castle.
Archaeological evidence has enabled the piecing together of the prehistory of Ireland. It starts with the initial evidence of humans in Ireland around 10500 BC and concludes with the start of the historical record around 400 AD. These dates are later than for much of Europe and all of the Near East. The prehistoric period includes the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age societies of Ireland. On the whole, for much of Europe, the historical record starts when the Romans invaded. Ireland, however, was not invaded by the Romans and so its historical record starts later, in this case with the arrival of Christianity.
The Neolithic, with its megalithic tombs, and the gold jewelry of the Bronze Age – when Ireland was a major center of gold-mining – are the two periods that have left the most spectacular evidence. This is due to Ireland’s many areas of bog land, and many archaeological finds have been recovered from these. The anaerobic conditions can preserve organic materials exceptionally well, as discovered with a number of bog bodies such as the Mesolithic wicker fish-trap, and a Bronze Age textile with delicate tassels of horse hair.
Ireland is an amazing destination. It is home to stunning sights, natural wonders, a dynamic cultural scene, historic lands, and of course, Guinness! And no matter how much the Emerald Isle evolves, traces of Ireland’s mysterious ancient past are still clearly visible.
3 September 2023
3 September 2024