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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Evidence of Man In Ireland

I have referred to what may be called Irish mythology or proto-history in several posts in three blogs. I now intend to post a bit about the archaeology of the Irish Isle. I'll begin with the rather rough outline below. Later, if my energy and the state of my mental faculties permit, I will make and attempt to associate the mythology with archaeology. Mythology is what honorable men have told us over the ages. Archaeology is made up of physical remains identified, ordered, and, perhaps, dated which honorable men can show me.

My best guess of the moment tells me that there is substantial archaeological evidence that Ireland has been occupied by men and women much like you and I continuously for about 10,000 years.

There is stronger evidence that there  has been well organized farming and cattle raising on the island for at least the last 5500 years. You might refer to the work that has been done at the Ceide Fields of County Mayo. The culture there seems to have been of a high Mesolithic type.

There is evidence of a neolithic culture being well established by 3500 BC. Evidence of that culture is found at the excavations at Lough Gur in Co. Limerick and at New Grange in Co. Meath and the other ancient tombs in the Boyne Valley. Bru na Boinne is a World Heritage site in County Meath. It is the largest and one of the most important megalithic sites in Europe. It dates from about 3500 BC and contains Knowth and Dowth, as well as New Grange.

Evidence of prospectors and metal workers in Ireland suggests an appearance date of about 2500 BC. Metallurgy appeared with the arrival of there of the Bell Beaker People, Bronze working was well developed by 2000 BC and was preceded by cooper work. Irish craftsmen of the Bronze age were famous beyond their island, especially for their beautifully made horn-shaped trumpets. A great deal of copper was mined in Kerry and Cork. Most of it was probably exported. Ireland had been know around the Mediterranean for native gold before 3000 BC, and with increased copper mining there was increased gold mining. Bronze, perhaps because of its high quality, remained important in Ireland to as late as 500 BC.

The Tuatha De Danann who were probably established in Ireland by 1890 BC would certainly, I believe, be called a Bronze Age people. The Fir Bolg their before them probably were too. The Milesians who were probably on the Island by 1700 BC probably were too. However, the Milesians may have brought knowledge of iron working.

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