• Life and Death in Iron Age Ireland

    The Irish Iron Age is without doubt the most enigmatic period in Irish archaeology. If there are more than 50,000 early medieval monuments known throughout Ireland, by contrast there are barely 50 monuments that one could point to and say definitively ‘That’s Iron Age/’ The number of Iron Age artefacts is considerably higher, but pales into insignificance compared to the thousands of objects from either the Bronze Age or the early medieval period. Until recently it was thought that the Irish Iron Age was almost entirely absent from the excavation record. With hundreds of large-scale excavations throughout the country and newly discovered sites from every period, nothing jumped out and screamed ‘Iron Age’. When radiocarbon dates started coming back from many projects, however, it gradually became clear that the Iron Age has been there all along – typically unassuming and frequently masquerading as something from another period. The picture is still very murky, but what is obvious is that the textbook for the entire Iron Age in Ireland needs to be rewritten from start to finish. Preconceived ideas about the dating and significance of the artefactual record of the period are already being challenged. The new evidence from recent archaeological excavations has the potential to transform our understanding of the Irish Iron Age and finally dispel the myths of Ireland’s supposed ‘dark age’.

    A new book of essays, edited by Dr Michael Potterton and myself, and published by Wordwell, brings together the Iron Age evidence from a large number of recent archaeological excavations. The information contained in the 26 essays in this volume makes a very significant contribution to a new understanding of the Irish Iron Age.

    Life and Death in Iron Age Ireland in the light of recent archaeological excavations is published by Wordwell (2012), 330 pages, colour illustrations throughout.

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