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 Archaeology.ie 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

Archaeologists uncover one of Derry City’s earliest buildings

Archaeologists working in Derry have uncovered the partial remains of a building, which pre-dates the walled city and is believed to have been burnt down during the O’Doherty rising of 1608. All that survives of the building, which was of timber frame construction, with a slate roof, is a stone cellar. When the building burnt down […]

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The Shrine of St. Lachtin’s Arm

Saint Lachtin’s Arm is an important religious relic that was associated with Donoughmore church in Co. Cork. Dating from circa 1120 AD, it was made to encase a human bone, purportedly belonging to Saint Lachtin.  The shrine’s hereditary guardians were the Healy family and for much of the medieval period they were entrusted with its […]

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Ireland’s Ancient Dairy Past Revealed

New research from the University of Bristol has revealed the antiquity of dairy farming in Ireland. Research published today in the Journal of Environmental Archaeology shows that dairying on the island goes back approximately 6,000 years, revealed through traces of ancient dairy fats found in pots dating to around 4,000 to 2,500 BC. Dr Jessica Smyth […]

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Revealing a 17th century town: Exciting discoveries at Dunluce, Co. Antrim

A team of archaeologists, which includes Dr. Colin Breen of the University of Ulster and Andrew Gault of the NIEA, are making exciting discoveries at Dunluce, Co. Antrim. This innovative archaeological research programme, which includes volunteer and apprenticeship opportunities, is revealing a wealth of information about an abandoned 17th century town. Located in the shadow of the iconic Dunluce Castle, […]

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A pair of Bronze Age Earrings from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon

Although the exact circumstance surrounding the discovery of the Castlerea earrings remains uncertain, it is believed that they were found near the Co. Roscommon town during the 18th century. Probably dating from the end of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1200 BC), the earrings measure approximately 3.6 cm in diameter. They were fashioned out of small rectangular […]

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Guiding ships for 800 years: Hook Lighthouse, Co. Wexford

 The iconic Hook Head lighthouse represents one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world.  It stands on the very tip of the windswept Hook peninsula in Co. Wexford, overlooking a number of important shipping routes. Circa 800 years old, it was erected in the early 13th century by the great Anglo-Norman magnate, William Marshall, […]

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Fragments of an Irish-type reliquary discovered in Norway

Two fragments of a house-shaped reliquary of Irish-type have been found in Norway. Most likely dating from the 7th to 9th centuries AD, the pieces probably represent loot that was stolen during Viking raids on Ireland or Scotland. In early medieval Ireland house-shaped reliquaries were used to store saint’s relics and played an important role in […]

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Bronze Age Houses Uncovered in Co. Wexford

Exciting evidence for Bronze Age activity has been uncovered at Drumgood, near Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford. This newly discovered site consists of a very large sub-circular enclosure, inside which, are at least three Bronze Age houses. It was excavated by Graham Hull of TVAS Ltd, who very kindly gave me a tour of the site […]

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Ross Errilly Friary, Co. Galway in Photos

I recently visited the impressive ruins of Ross Errilly Friary in Co. Galway. Founded in 1351 AD, it represents one of the finest medieval Franciscan monasteries  in Ireland. It is located just outside the small town of Headford, on the banks of the Black River, in area of rolling pasture-land.  The friary contains an  extensive […]

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Neolithic flint axe and preserved wooden handle discovered in Denmark

Another fantastic find by archaeologists working on the Fehmarn Belt Tunnel scheme in Denmark. They have uncovered a Neolithic flint axe that is still held within its wooden handle. The axe was discovered within foreshore silts and these damp, relatively anaerobic conditions helped to preserve the organic handle. A number of other artefacts, including wooden […]

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Ranvaik’s Casket, an ornate shrine stolen during Viking raids on Ireland?

Now housed in the Danish National Museum, this beautiful reliquary of Irish-type was most likely stolen during Viking raids on Ireland or Scotland. It dates from the 8th century AD and is made from yew wood encased in decorative panels of bronze and enamel. Somewhat unusually, it contains a runic inscription on its base. This […]

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Bronze Age Gold: Treasures from the National Museum of Ireland

A selection of some of the wonderful Bronze Age treasures which are are currently on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin.  1. A Late Bronze Age gold collar from Gleninsheen, Co. Clare, it dates from c. 900-700 BC  2. An Early Bronze Age gold lunula from Ross, Co. Westmeath, it dates […]

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Lost and Found: Excavations at Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

Archaeologist Alva Mac Gowan describes the recent exciting discoveries at Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin. On Friday the 19th of September I received an email from an old friend and fellow archaeologist, Antoine Giacometti of Archaeology Plan, which simply read, ‘Call me, I have work for you’. A smile spread across my face as I had just […]

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Five-thousand-year-old footprints found in Denmark

Exciting news from Denmark: archaeologists working on the Fehmarn Belt Tunnel scheme, have uncovered evidence for 5,000-year-old human footprints (source Museum Lolland-Falster). The footprints were identified along the edge of an ancient post-and-wattle fish-trap, which was built in an area of coastline that had formerly been occupied by a series of inlets and rivers. At […]

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2000-year-old seeds bring an extinct tree back to life

This unassuming looking plant is the only living representative of the Judean Date Palm, a species of tree, which became extinct in antiquity. It was grown from one of a collection of seeds found inside a pottery jar at Masada, a historic mountain fortress in southern Israel. Subsequent radiocarbon analysis of the seeds indicated that they […]

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The wonderful 12th century doorway at Killeshin Church, Laois

  Located close to the border with Co. Carlow, the small medieval church at Killeshin, Co. Laois contains a remarkable piece of Romanesque architecture. It consists of an elaborately decorated doorway in the western gable wall of the ruined church. Most likely erected between 1150 and 1160 AD, an inscription on the doorway reads ‘Orait […]

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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 […]