Ireland in the Bronze Age: Help Wanted

Author requests help from the public in writing a book.

Those of you who have been following this blog or have been a recipient of my emails from time to time are aware that I’ve been collecting material for a book on the Irish Bronze Age. For the last number of years I have been collecting, collating and digesting the many hundreds of reports of Bronze Age sites excavated in Ireland. My thanks go to everyone who has allowed to me to read their reports in advance of publication.

Since Christmas I’ve started the work of structuring the book and writing chapter summaries. This is probably the hardest thing for an archaeologist to do as it involves making judgements about what the reader will find useful or interesting. It is very difficult to juggle the details of thousands of sites and artefacts in one’s mind while at the same time imagining what aspects the reader will want to read about. I would like to take the opportunity to appeal to you the reader to give me the benefit of your perspective.

Please tell me what aspects of the Irish Bronze Age you find interesting. What aspects do you have questions about? What aspects need to be clarified? Are there any neglected areas you feel should be discussed. Please let me have your comments on this blog, or email them to me at or tweet them to me at @Cmount1. With your help I hope to be able to write a really interesting book.


Cite this post as:

Mount, C. Ireland in the Bronze Age: Help Wanted. The Charles Mount Blog, January 27, 2012.




10 thoughts on “Ireland in the Bronze Age: Help Wanted

  1. Sorry Charles, I feel like I might be stalking you a bit at the moment…

    What I would love to see in your book, which I’m really excited about anyway, is a really comprehensive account of farming practices. I read too many accounts of prehistory that barely mention agriculture and focus way too much on other aspects. It seems to me that whatever else is going on that people would have spent the majority of their time farming, and this needs to be better reflected in the literature. Completely tied into this would be a really good review of the environmental evidence, which is too often left alone in specialist reports and apendices. A comprehensive synthesis of the environmental evidence would therefore be second on my list, not least because I wouldn’t want to attempt to do it myself!

  2. Hi Charles,

    Personally I’d like to see more information on all the Bronze Age houses that were uncovered during the Celtic Tiger boom years. There must be a wealth of information out there now. It would be interesting to see if there is any evidence for regional styles, etc. Looking forward to reading your publication!

    All the best,

  3. Stuart and Colm,

    Thanks for the suggestions. It’s really helpful to get this kind of feedback. I’ve collected a lot of data on farming and on pollen analysis that I’ll be able to discuss. There are reports on more than 500 houses now and John Ó Néill in his Inventory of Bronze Age Structures (which he’s preparing for publication) has already identified some regional styles. It will be very interesting to compare house styles with other aspects of the record such as burials and hoards.

    Keep the ideas coming!


  4. Charles, I am very interested in what happened between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, apart from the discovery of bronze! The Stone Age people seemed to have reached a zenith with the construction of passage-mounds like Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth but just as they hit this great height, they seem to have vanished or been struck by some massive calamity, whether environmental or otherwise. Why is there such a marked difference between the monuments that were being constructed in the Neolithic and the less grandiose, more mundane structures like henges and enclosures? The large post-hole henge found in front of Newgrange post-dates the main passage-mound. Why these simpler structures? Were the Neolithic builders struck down by a famine or a plague, or some sort of massive flood event or some similar disaster?

  5. When an educated Irish minister visited Mid-Norway the other year she was thrilled to see and hear about their age-old traditions of boat-making – as well as thusands of (bronze-age) boats carved in rock. Before leaving she told the press that this info had maed her even more aware of the common traits of boat-building between Ireland and western Scandinavia – where the seafaring-culture of the North-Atlantic are supposed to originate.

    Moreover there are a number of common traits between the bronze and iron-age cultures of southern Scandinavia and Ireland, like various metalworks, symbols, hillforts, megaliths and cairns. Such as –'s_Grave

    Lately we have heard some rumours about pre-roman connections between scytians and picts (sic!) that are supposed to go via Finland and Mid-Scandinavia. According to the maritime experts it could be that the Lofoten area have been an effective “shoot-out” across the gulf-stream, to reach the south-going “Greenland stream” – passing Iceland and the Faroe (“Faring”) Islands before it closes in on – hrm. – yes…

    By the way – the oldest book left from the Norwegian literature (“Speculum regale”) mentions a land west of Greenland, called “Stor-Irland” – or ‘Big-Ireland’. Later that was named “Vinland” and connected to Leif Eriksson, who brougth the two first christian priests there.

    Ir-land in old norse sure means “Green land”. Still the norwegians used the phrase “Ir”or “Irr” in a combination with “grön” (“green”). The term “Ir-grön” (also spelled “Irr-grön”) simply means ‘deeply green’ or ‘clean green’ or ‘very strongly green’ – according to dialect and user…

    To round of the Scandinavian angle I may reassure myself that you are duely aware of this solid master-price – where examples of parallels between the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Irish Sea are fluent:

    May that serve as an inspiration to explore Irelands role as a key-point in the very first seafarers across the North Atlantic. Getting from England or France to Norway is no match – as long as the sun shines and your vessel float. The Gulf stream from the English channel passes the coast of Norway at the speed of 4 knots – regardless of winds and weather. The problem s to get BACK – in a way that doesnt exhaust the longboat or its crew. That’s why a regional and local knowledge of the “ocean rivers” (Homer) is needed. Thus we got a new insigth into this matter as we understood that the northern part of Norway (specificly the islands of Lofoten) could provide a “sling-shoot” across the northern stream – to reach the aproximity of Iceland and/or the Feroe Islands and the opposite drift – southwards.

    That may (even) explain a background from which we can understand why some seaports and trading-spots in Irland was the first of priorities when the iron-age sea-kings of Norway sent warriors abroad – to resist the mercantile monopoly of the Mercandia and the Francs – from pirating their trade-ships and/or closing the routes and ports to “all heathens”…

    Best of luck with your important work – please send us a note when its out for sale. I would indeed enjoy to make it known – by recension – in Scandinavia…!

  6. Hi Charles,

    I would like to see a thorough overview of early metalworking sites – the mines, the settlements assocatied with them, where that metalwork ended up. Ross Island in context as it were! What is the very earliest evidence for either metals or mining in the archaeological record?

    Oh, and maybe a bit on rock art too. So many people seem to assume that the abstract rock art of the south-west is Bronze Age, but I think it must be much earlier. So an up-to-date review of any dating evidence would be great.

    Look forward to seeing the book!

  7. Inishowen in county Donegal has a most remarkable heritage, but forgotten by its own people and barely mentioned in any publications. Perhaps it would be possible to include some of its known site.
    With all the best wishes,

  8. Hi Charles,
    I would be most interested in any contribution concerning regionality…and whether we really can define wider communities or just overlapping ways of doing things… I guess what I’m getting at is that I think any attempt at synthesis should consider what details of social life we can infer from the data available.
    I’d like to complement you on taking the step of inviting comment prior to embarking on your final write up. It is a very novel and interesting approach, I look forward to reading your book.

  9. Thanks to everyone for the comments made here, via email and on twitter. A lot of areas and themes have been highlighted that I was thinking about and many that I wasn’t. I really appreciate the input and you’ve all given me a lot to think about.


  10. Hi Charles,

    I just saw this now. I think it would be interesting if there was a sense of what was happening in the wider world at this time. So many books on Irish archaeology are inward-looking, as if people on this island lived in a vacuum. It would be make it easier to understand how Ireland fit into Europe, and beyond, at this stage in prehistory.

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