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Bronze weapons still in use in Iron Age

The Iron Age

(c.500 B.C - 400 A.D )

The Celtic Age


The end of the Irish Bronze Age merges into the Early Iron Age almost imperceptibly.  Not much is known about this period in time and it has been dubbed 'The Irish Dark Age'.   It would seem from the evidence so far uncovered that iron use was gradually introduced into Ireland. However, bronze implements were still very much in use for everyday objects and for ornamentation.  Many of the finds dating to the Iron Age include objects decorated in the 'La Téne' style such as the wonderful torc found at Broighter, Co. Derry.

Many finds were made in lakes and around the sites of Crannógs (artificial islands).  Many horse trappings were discovered dating to this period indicating the importance of horses to Iron Age Man.  Many of the 'Historical Romances' transcribed by medieval monks refer to this period in time, the Ulster Cycle and stories of Emain Macha (Navan Fort) are noted in particular.  The use of chariots in battle has been attested to in the tales of the ancient warriors.

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Gold strip found at Lambay Island, Dublin

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Bronze Disc with La Téne decoration

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Mixture of bronze and iron objects including horse trappings

This is the time of the Celts in Ireland, of the great ring-forts, raids from Ireland to the eastern coast of Britain, capturing goods and people.  There has been much speculation about the role of the druids and the aes dána the learned people of the Celts.

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Gold torc part of the Broighter Hoard, Co. Derry

Cultural Movements

Halstatt Period

La Tene 

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Gold model-ship from Broighter Hoard


Sources: Irish Archaeology Illustrated edited by Michael Ryan pub. Dublin 1994

Harbison, Peter - Pre-christian Ireland, from the first settlers to the Early Celts, pub. Thames&Hudson 1998.

photo sources: National Museum of Ireland.


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© Shee-Eire