The Bronze Age in Ireland

Bronze Age - Froaringus - cc
Bronze Age - Froaringus - cc

The Bronze Age in Ireland is a period that heralds the working of specific materials, such as bronze or gold. Very quickly, the population concentrated on mining, and gathered its craftsmen around the creation of various objects such as weapons or tools of daily life. As for the megaliths, they became less imposing than during the Neolithic period… A small glimpse of these notable evolutions…

History of the Bronze Age in Ireland

Greater control of metals

It all began around 2500 B.C., when local craftsmen discovered that the alloy of copper and tin formed a new metal: bronze.

Very soon, the population realized the advantages of bronze, and decided to develop copper mines, located on the Ross Island side (Co. Kerry) as well as in the County of Cork. These exploitations lasted from 2400 to 1800 B.C., and allowed the population to extract more than 370 tons of copper…

As for tin, Ireland did not have any potential extraction sites, and was therefore content to import it from Cornwall to Great Britain.

Very quickly, Irish craftsmen made a real reputation for the finesse of their work. They produced many swords, axes and trumpets in the shape of a horn – made by the lost wax method – which are quite remarkable. Their objects were then exported all over Europe

Gold mining is on the rise…

It is then that the population begins to extract gold. Ireland has indeed many gold mines and becomes one of the first countries to extract this precious metal… Craftsmen then made fabulous objects from gold leaf, such as croissants, torques, earrings, discs and necklaces.

In fact, Ireland has the largest number of Bronze Age gold treasures of any country in Europe. Some of these treasures have even been found in distant countries such as Germany and Scandinavia…

Less imposing megaliths

During the Bronze Age, there was a loss of interest in megaliths. The population is now too absorbed by the exploitation of metals, and devotes its time only to the creation of small dolmens or stone circles in the province of Munster and Ulster. The time of imposing constructions such as cairns and other burial mounds dating from the Neolithic period is now over …

However, a new form of tomb was born at the end of the Bronze Age: the cistus graves, a kind of small rectangular stone chest covered with a slab and buried less than a metre underground.