Irish Archaeology website

16th century Irish Hipsters

I recently spotted what appeared to be remarkably modern looking haircuts in Albrecht Druer’s woodcut of 1521 AD[i]. This image shows a group of Irish soldiers[ii], most likely mercenaries, who were fighting on the European continent during the early 1520s. I soon discovered that, far from being unusual, this distinctive hairstyle was actually very popular […]

Through the millennia: Irish Archaeology in photos

Here is another selection of  amazing images from our Photography Competition, this time spanning the entire breadth of Irish archaeology. Don’t forget there are also specific posts showing some of the Prehistoric, Early Medieval, Late Medieval and Foreign Archaeology photos. All of the images used in this blog post are copyright of the respective photographers, please respect this. ‘Starry Night at […]

Castles and Abbeys: Medieval Ireland in Photos

Here is a selection of some of the fantastic images that have been entered into our Photography Competition, this time with an emphasis on Medieval sites. Don’t forget there are also blog posts on the Prehistoric and Early Medieval photos. All of the images used in this blog post are copyright of the respective photographers, […]

Early Medieval Ireland in Photos

Early Medieval Ireland in Photos. A small selection of some of the brilliant images that have been entered into our Photography Competition, this time with an emphasis on Early Medieval sites. You can seen a selection of Prehistoric photos here. The competition runs until the 31st of July, so don’t be afraid to enter.  All of […]

Prehistoric Ireland in Photos

Prehistoric Ireland in Photos. In  case you didn’t know it already, Irish are running a photography competition for the month of July. So far there has been an amazing response and the standard of entries has been fantastic.  Below are just a small selection of these photos, with an emphasis on prehistoric sites. The competition runs […]

Mount Sandel, a Mesolithic Campsite

Approximately 9,000 years ago, a small band of Mesolithic hunter-gathers chose a high ridge over-looking the River Bann in modern day Co. Derry as their home. Here, in a forest clearing, they erected a series of tent-like structures, fashioned out of wooden posts and covered in hides or thatch. These simple buildings represent Ireland’s very […]

Thor’s Wood, a sacred grove near Viking Age Dublin?

In late December 999 AD Brian Bóruma, king of Munster, decisively defeated the Viking’s of Dublin[i] at the battle of Glen Máma[ii]. This bloody contest was a severe set-back for the Hiberno-Norse inhabitants of the city, and their king, Sitric Silkbeard, was forced to flee. The following day Brian’s troops marched on Dublin, which they […]

Poulnabrone Tomb: Life and Death in the Burren

Standing proud in the stark landscape of the Burren Co. Clare, the iconic megalithic tomb at Poulnabrone is one of Ireland’s most photographed archaeological sites. Dating from the Neolithic period, this distinctive monument has revealed a wealth of information about the lives and burial customs of Ireland’s very first farming communities. Poulnabrone is classified as […]

The Lisdrumturk Cauldron

Discovered in 1854, by turf-cutters digging in a Co. Monaghan bog, the Lisdrumturk Cauldron is an exceptional example of Late Bronze Age metal-working. It was undoubtedly a high status object and its burial in a bog may be indicative of ritual activity. Finally crafted, the cauldron measures 29.5cm high by 50cm in diameter. It is made from […]

Toy Viking boat

A Viking Age toy boat from Dublin

This image shows a wooden replica of an ocean-going Viking longboat that was discovered during the National Museum of Ireland’s excavations at Winetavern Street, Dublin. Most likely a toy, the vessel measures approximately 37 cm in length by a maximum of 8.5 cm in width. Originally the boat would have had a mast and a […]

Recent News

Meet the Archaeologist: Breandán Ó Ríordáin

‘An archaeologist is really like a detective because he is always on the lookout for clues of various kinds which will help him in forming some idea of the way of life and customs of the people who lived in ancient times. As he is usually dealing with that period of time in which no […]

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Archaeologists uncover medieval human remains outside Trinity College, Dublin

Exciting news emerged today about a number of skeletons which were recently discovered outside Trinity College, Dublin, by Rubicon Heritage Services. In total, the partial remains of five individuals were identified at a depth of 1.5m below current street level.  According to Rubicon this is ‘well  below the known level of post-medieval activity, suggesting the remains are […]

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In photos: The ornate medieval stonework at Boyle Abbey, Roscommon

Founded in 1161 AD, by the Cistercian order of monks, Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon contains a fine collection of medieval decorated stonework. These pieces are found inside the ruins of the late 12th/early 13th century church and take the form of ornate capitals. Exploiting a variety of decorative motifs, the stone capitals contain images of both […]

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Irish Archaeology’s Photograph Competition 2014

The annual Irish photo competition is open once more for entries. Last year’s competition was very successfully and we received loads of fantastic images. You can view some of theses photos here, here, here, here and here.  Hopefully the standard will be equally high this year. The photos submitted should feature archaeological or historical […]

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The throne of the quiet man: the Súgán chair

by Alva Mac Gowan. This chair has a story to tell. Its tightly twisted seat is made from straw woven by the hands of children who could not hear, and so their touch and sight was all the stronger. Its body was carved by the same hands; sensitive and relishing the challenge of creating an […]

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A Viking Midsummer’s Night

Alva Mac Gowan tells how she spent an enjoyable midsummer’s night in a very unusual location. This year, after a melancholy, dark and stormy winter, I decided to celebrate the longest day with a few close friends and make it a midsummer to remember.  I work (when the work is there) as an archaeologist. Many […]

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Traditional thatched cottages, Kilmore Quay, Wexford

Today I spent a lovely morning in Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford. This picturesque fishing village is famous for its thatched cottages, many of which date from the 19th century. These traditional buildings are mainly of mud-wall construction and are thatched with reeds (although originally wheaten or oaten straw would have been used). Simple vernacular structures, […]

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The Rock of Dunamase, Co. Laois

From the top of a large limestone outcrop in county Laois, the imposing fortress at the Rock of Dunamase dominates the surrounding landscape.  It is strategically located, overlooking an important route between counties Carlow and Laois, and as result the castle played an important role in the early Anglo-Norman expansion in Leinster. Today most of the surviving […]

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A 15th century medicinal recipe from Co. Louth

A late 15th century inscribed slate was discovered at Smarmore church, Co. Louth in 1959 and is now on display at the National Museum of Ireland. It contains a medicinal recipe, most likely for a poultice, that would have been applied to an ulcer or wound to aid healing. The recipe uses a variety of […]

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Shrine of the Miosach: An Early Irish Book Shrine

This ornate book shrine comes from Clonmany, Inishowen, Co. Donegal, where the O’Morrison family were its traditional keepers. Associated with Saint Cairneach, the oldest parts of the shrine appear to date from the 11th century AD. The core of the artefact consists of a single piece of yew wood that was hollowed out to receive […]

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A Late Bronze Age gold necklace from Tumna, Co. Roscommon

In 1834 a group of men ‘landing potatoes’ at Tumna, Co. Roscommon discovered a collection of curious gold balls. Dating from the Late Bronze Age, these ancient artefacts had lain hidden in the ground for  nearly 3,000 years. They were hollow inside and contained opposed holes to facilitate threading, suggesting that they had originally formed […]

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A Bronze Age Spindle Whorl from Tipperary

  This decorated spindle whorl was discovered inside a Late Bronze Age house that was excavated by Bernice Molly at Killmelly, Co. Tipperary (Molloy 2009, 67). Used to make thread, spindle whorls played an important role in textile production. They consist of a perforated disc or spherical object that was originally attached to a spindle […]

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A Mesolithic cemetery: Ireland’s oldest burials

  On a bend of the River Shannon, Ireland’s largest watercourse, a small band of hunter-gathers came to together nearly […]

Images of Newgrange through the ages

The Neolithic  passage tomb at Newgrange is the most visited archaeological site in Ireland. Over 5000 years old it pre-dates the first phase of […]

The Broighter hoard

The remarkable Broighter hoard, arguably the finest treasure trove of the Irish Iron Age, was discovered on a February evening […]

The Oseberg Viking ship burial

  In 1904 a remarkable archaeological site was uncovered at Oseberg, Norway. It consisted of an astonishingly well-preserved Viking ship […]

The death of an elephant, Dublin, 1681

I stumbled across a curious 17th century account of an elephant in Dublin city recently. Yes, you read right, an […]

Dublin’s lost buildings: The Dutch Billy

  Strolling through some of Dublin streets at the begining of the 18th century, an English visitor to the city […]