ARCH07035 2019 Prehistoric Ireland, from Ice Age to Iron Age: 12,500 BC - AD 400

General Details

Full Title
Prehistoric Ireland, from Ice Age to Iron Age: 12,500 BC - AD 400
Transcript Title
Prehistoric Ireland, from Ice
100 %
Subject Area
ARCH - Archaeology
ESCI - Environmental Science
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Marion Dowd
Programme Membership
SG_SIRIS_S07 202100 Certificate in Irish Archaeology

This module explores the prehistoric archaeology of the island of Ireland from the earliest hunter-gatherers who arrived at the end of the Ice Age about 12,500 years ago, up to the advent of Christianity by AD 400. Prehistoric Ireland was dynamic with evidence for local and insular developments flourishing and adapting to societal changes introduced from Britain and mainland Europe. Ireland also played a significant role in influencing cultural traditions elsewhere in Europe.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Demonstrate knowledge of the key periods, dates and chronology relevant to prehistoric Ireland.


Describe the settlement patterns and economy for each of the prehistoric periods from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Iron Age.


Outline the nature of the burial and ritual practices of each prehistoric period.


Identify the principal artefacts associated with Ireland's prehistoric periods.


Demonstrate knowledge of the principal sites and monuments associated with the Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered by online learning.

Power Point lectures will contain illustrations and text.

Class notes will be available that summarise key points of lectures.

The course is divided into five sections, each dealing with a specific period.

Module Assessment Strategies

After Week 6, there will be an on-line mid-term exam comprising 20 short questions.

A final exam, after Week 13, will comprise a further 20 short questions.

Repeat Assessments

Repeat assessments will comprise 20 short questions for the mid-term exam, and 20 short questions for the final exam.

Indicative Syllabus

The latest archaeological and palaeontological evidence for a Late Upper Palaeolithic presence in Ireland, in comparison to the evidence from Britain.

The earliest successful human colonisation of the island - the Mesolithic - from 8000 BC, and associated settlement, technology, economy and burial.

The arrival of farming and associated societal changes in the Neolithic from 3,900 BC, including megalithic monuments, art, houses, pottery, domesticated animals and cereals, tools and a changed relationship with landscape.

The major changes to the political, social and economic fabric of Ireland from 2,400 BC with the ability to smelt copper and create metal objects, including exploration of Bronze Age trade, social stratification, hillforts, burial and votive deposition .

Iron Age origins from 700 BC and the smelting of ores and manufacture of iron objects, with an examination of this 'dark age' in Irish archaeology, royal sites, the bog body phenomenon, and the 'Celts'.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
50 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
50 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Mid-term exam Continuous Assessment Multiple Choice/Short Answer Test 50 % Week 6 1,2,3,4,5

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Final exam Final Exam Multiple Choice/Short Answer Test 50 % Week 13 1,2,3,4,5

Online Learning Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Distance Learning Suite ODL 2 Weekly 2.00
Total Online Learning Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 2.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Recommended Reading
2013. The origins of the Irish Wordwell Ltd., Dublin.

Recommended Reading
2010. The prehistoric archaeology of Ireland. Wordwell Ltd., Dublin.

Module Resources

Journal Resources

Further reading:

Dowd, M. and Carden, R. F. 2016. First evidence of a Late Upper Palaeolithic human presence in Ireland. Quaternary Science Reviews 139, 158-163. 

Conneller, C. and Warren, G. 2006. Mesolithic Ireland and Britain: new approaches. Stroud: Tempus.

Cooney, G. 2000. Landscapes of Neolithic Ireland. London: Routledge.

Corlett, C. and Potterton, M. 2012. Life and death in Iron Age Ireland. Dublin: Wordwell.

Cooney, G., Becker, K., Coles, J., Ryan, M. and Sievers, S. 2009. Relics of old decency: archaeological studies in later prehistory: Festschrift for Barry Raftery. Wicklow: Wordwell.


URL Resources

Other Resources

Archaeology Ireland - a quarterly magazine