ARP 2041 – Ireland in Prehistory

Module Overview

This module surveys the archaeology of Ireland from c. 8000 BC to the coming of Christianity. The module begins with the background to human colonisation of this island. It traces the evidence for Ireland’s first colonists and their cultural development, seen in such sites as the hunting-fishing camp at Mount Sandel, up until the arrival of the earliest farming communities. The settlements, economies, megalithic tombs such as Newgrange and other ritual structures of Ireland’s first farmers are examined within the framework of both their environmental and social context. The module then takes up the earliest metal-using communities of the Bronze Age and follows the rise of bronze- and iron-using elites in Ireland. Special attention is given to sites such as Navan Fort, the problem of the origins of the Irish, to what extent the earliest Irish traditional literature provides a ‘window on the Iron Age’, and consideration of the main debates in Irish prehistory.

Learning outcomes

You will gain familiarity with the material cultural of prehistoric Ireland and an awareness of major issues in the study of prehistoric Ireland, and you will learn how to acquire and synthesise evidence-based archaeological information, using a range of library and digital sources. You will also develop your proficiency in oral and written communication skills.


Module Co-ordinator: Dr Gill Plunkett

Other Contributor: Dr Dirk Brandherm


(Image: Knocknashee  hillfort – T. Kahlert)