The Iron Age

Archaeologists date the transiion to the Iron Age in Ireland to around 500 BC. The transition to Iron Age culture in Ireland is marked by the transition from bronze to iron working, the introduction of rotary querns, stones, of linear earthworks and the continued use of hillforts. The Iron Age in Ireland has often been referred to as the 'Dark Age' due to a lack of finds and sites. The late Barry Raftery described the people of the early Irish Iron Age as 'The Invisible People'. This period of prehistory is also aceramic with natively produced pottery not reappearing in the archaeological record until the later stages of the early medieval period. Recent development led excavations have led to increased evidence of Iron Age settlement sites identified mainly by returning Iron Age radiocarbon dates. Around 300 BC sees the first evidence of influences of the La Tene culture, more popularly described as the celtic era in Ireland. Although many have older origins, what are often referred to to as the 'royal Sites' such as Tara, Emain Macha, Dún Ailinne and Crúachain are associated with the Iron Age in Ireland. Many promontary forts can also be dated to the Iron Age.

Unlike much of Europe, Ireland remained outside the Roman Empire and so Iron Age culture survived in Ireland until the fall in the Roman Empire and the arrival of christianity in the 5th century. However research, particualarly the Discovery Programme's LIARI project is throwing new light on the links between Ireland and Roman Britain.

Iron Age Sites Visited

Last Updated , March 2015