Timeline of Irish Archaeology

Mesolithic (c. 8500-4000 BCE):  The earliest inhabitants of Ireland were hunter-gatherers who lived in small bands that moved frequently. They lived a nomadic lifestyle, travelling from place to place in the search for food and resources. They abandoned a wide range of artefacts, such as shell middens, shell tools, animal bones, and stone tools.

Neolithic (c. 4000-2500 BCE):  Around this time, the first farmers arrived in Ireland. This period is known as the Neolithic. They introduced new forms of technology, such as pottery and tools made from polished stone, which they brought with them. Megalithic structures, such as stone circles and passage tombs, were also constructed by these people.

Bronze Age (c. 2500-500 BCE): Was the time when metalworking techniques were first introduced to Ireland. Tools and weapons were forged out of bronze, and the first centres for the fabrication of metal were established. Cremation and the building of cairns and barrows were two new burial practices that emerged around the same time as other burial customs.

Iron Age (c. 500 BCE-400 CE):  Ironworking techniques were first introduced to Ireland. Iron was worked into implements and weapons, and the first centres for the trade were established around this time. Alterations were also made to the manner in which the dead were buried, such as the practice of inhumation and the building of ringforts.

Early Medieval (c. 400-1100 CE): Christianity was brought to Ireland during this time period. The first written records were created at the same time as the establishment of monasteries. The establishment of cemeteries and the building of high crosses both brought about shifts in the burial practices that were followed.

Late Medieval (c. 1100-1500 CE): In Ireland, the first towns and cities were founded during the Late Medieval period.. During this time, business and commerce flourished, and the construction of the first castles began. The construction of tower houses and the establishment of churchyards both brought about shifts in the burial practices that were followed.

Early Modern (c. 1500-1800 CE): It was during this time that Ireland saw the founding of its first industrial sites. Rapid population growth coincided with the establishment of the very first factories. The development of graveyards and Georgian-style homes both contributed to shifts in traditional burial practices during this time period.

Modern (c. 1800-present): Ireland’s population continued to expand at a rapid rate. The beginnings of industrialization and urbanisation coincided with the execution of the very first archaeological surveys. The establishment of crematoriums and the building of modern structures both brought about shifts in traditional burial practices.