Saturday, 12 November 2011

Mesolithic Ireland - Mesolithic Stone Age In Ireland

Mesolithic Ireland

9000 BC is often referred to as Mesolithic Ireland or the middle Stone Age in Irish History, and the people were known as the Mesolithic people. From the information and sites that have been found it is most likely that they lived in the North of Ireland and they probably crossed over from Scotland and Wales. The reason for that assumption is that from either Wales or Scotland, weather permitting, Ireland can be clearly seen.

Mesolithic Ireland at Mountsandal Coleraine
In Mesolithic times, Ireland would have been densely covered by trees. The earliest settlement that has been found to date is at Mount Sandel, close to Coleraine on the banks of the river Bann in the North of Ireland. This site was excavated by Peter Woodman of University College in County Cork and has been dated at around 7000 BC according to radiocarbon testing.

The remains of seven structures, most likely forms of huts were found and of most interest, four of these huts were built on top of one another, perhaps suggesting that the people returned to the same place for several years. The huts were made of bent over saplings pushed into the ground in a circular form and then covered off with some type of animal skin, most likely a deer.  Pits were also found at the site with the bones of wild pig and hare and small birds along with the shells of nuts. It is likely that boar would have been their main food in the cold winter months and salmon in the spring and summer periods.

Stone and flint were used for a variety of weapons and tools and the different types of stone were used to suit whatever job needed doing.  Flint was for example highly effective for arrow heads and spear heads, whereas sandstone would have been used for sharpening tools and weapons.

In 5500 BC in Mesolithic Ireland we find some of the sites are littered with thousands of stone edges and these would have been used in a similar fashion to the way we would use knives and scissors today. Tools found at the site included flint axes, pick like tools, scrapers and needles.

Microliths is the name used for small stone flakes and tools.  Microliths were set in wood in long rows to create a longer cutting edge. The reason I mention this is that it shows a change in the way tools were being made and used.

It is hard to be certain what type of people actually inhabited these settlements but most likely they would have been some type of hunter and gatherer, and most likely nomadic.  The people probably wore furs, and used wool from sheep along with plants that would form natural dyes. I would now recommend that you read about the Bronze Age in Ireland.