ARCH07046 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
06 - 06 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Marion Dowd, Shirley Markley
Programme Membership
SG_SINTE_S07 201900 Level 7 Special Purpose Award in Irish Archaeology (International)

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 circa 12,500 BC, 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;


1. State the dates and chronology of the five main prehistoric periods in Ireland


2. Outline the settlement pattern, economy, funerary and ritual evidence for the Late Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age


3. Identify the principal artefact types associated with each period


4. Recognise the principal sites and monuments related to each period

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered by online learning.

PowerPoint 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 2,500 word essay will be submitted in Week 10.

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, 20 short questions for the final exam and/or repeat the essay assignment.

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 colonisation of the island - the Mesolithic from 8000BC

- The economy, settlement patterns, technologies, rituals and burials of these small bands of nomadic hunter-gatherer-fisher groups

- 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, new stone tool types and a new 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.

- Bronze Age trade, gold and bronze production, social stratification, hillforts, burial and ritual monuments  and votive deposition will be examined.

- Iron Age origins from 700 BC and the smelting of ores and manufacture of iron objects

- We examine this 'dark age' in Irish archaeology, as well as the royal sites with their later mythological associations. The bog body phenomenon, the 'Celts' and connections between Ireland and the wider world are discussed.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
70 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
30 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Mid-term exam Continuous Assessment Multiple Choice 30 % Week 6 1,2,3,4
2 Essay Continuous Assessment Essay 40 % Week 10 1,2,4

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Final exam Final Exam Multiple Choice 30 % Week 13 1,2,3,4

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