Welcome to our Introduction to Irish Archaeology Course

Join us as we travel through time in Ireland, from the hunter gatherers to the Flight of the Earls. On our journey we’ll visit some of the key periods of Irish archaeology, and we’ll see some of the iconic sites, places, objects and discoveries that have helped to shape our understanding.

In this chapter, we’ll explore the definitions of archaeology, what it is that we actually study, and the different sorts of evidence – such as structural evidence, artefacts, human and animal remains, insects, pollen and more, that helps to inform us about the past. We also answer the question as to why archaeology is important, and how the past is not static and set in stone, but fluid and ever-changing.

As you move through the course, you can find suggested reading lists, resources and podcasts in the Materials tab. We have also developed a course workbook that you can read and print (see below). The reading lists aren’t compulsory to complete the course, but they will hopefully be helpful to those who want to dig a bit deeper into each period and theme. We will be doing deeper dives into each period in individual courses in the near future, allowing us to really get under the skin of a subject. But for now let’s take a whistle-stop tour through time as we set off through the millennia together!

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The following reading and resource list isn't essential for you to enjoy and complete the course, it is just some of my recommendations for those who would like to dig a bit deeper into each theme and period. I've tried to recommend publications that are affordable and accessible (sadly so many great books are out of print now). You'll also see podcasts and other types of resources that can help you go a bit deeper than the brief overview that this course offers. Remember, we are working on dedicated courses for each of the key periods, and we'll be able to go more in-depth in those. This course is intended to give an accessible familiarity with the key themes and periods for those who are new to Irish archaeology or those who'd like a quick refresher. I hope you find it helpful.

General Reading & Resource List

  • An important book that is on pretty much every archaeologist's bookshelf is the Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. It may be getting on in years now but it gives a great overview to how the Irish landscape has changed since the Ice Age. It's available here.
  • For an accessible and insightful overview of the different types of monuments in Ireland I recommend Antiquities of Rural Ireland. It's available here.
  • Similarly, a Short Guide to Irish Antiquities is very useful too. It is available here.
  • If you haven't already tried out our Amplify Archaeology Podcast you might enjoy it! It features chats and deep dives with a number of experts on Irish Archaeology, covering subjects like the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, the archaeology of Ireland's wetlands and Irish castles. You can find them all here.