Ireland's Iron Age is
usually said to run from the end of the Bronze Age (around 500 B.C.)
and continues until around 500 A.D. The overlap from Later Bronze
Age to Early Iron Age reflects how society changed slowly and did
not make a great leap of technology and culture from one period into
another. Similarly, the end of the Iron Age extends into the
Early Christian period in Ireland, and while great changes
were taking place at that time, the technology used in farming and
blacksmithing, cart making, etc. would have continued unchanged up
to relatively modern times.
Ireland's Iron Age has it's
origins in Europe where a culture known as the Halstatt was
flourishing 800 B.C. for a couple of centuries. This was the time
when the Celts came to Ireland - probably not peacefully but as an
invading force. In a few hundred years the Bronze age technology had
been replaced by Iron Age Celtic techology.
The effect of this new Iron
Age cannot be over emphasized. Suddenly iron axes and iron
farming equipment began to have a dramatic effect on the landscape.
Perhaps one of the greatest changes introduced into Ireland during
the Iron age was the making of iron swords and spears.
Staigue Fort in Co. Kerry is a wonderful
example of a late Iron Age Stone Fort.