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    Myth busting - the origins of the Irish

    Even today you can still read posts on forums where people keep thinking the Irish R1b is pre-farming or down to some Iberian invasions. So for those who dont know a lot about this I will give a summary. It pretty in line with the findings in Mallory's recent 'Origins of the Irish' book which all those who are interested in truth rather than Myth about the Irish should read.

    1. The earliest Irish arrived c. 8000BC according to the earliest dates. They possessed a narrow blade type flint traditions and a tradition of rather substantial round houses. The only close parallel at the right date are from Britain. The earliest date for this culture so far found is dated from some hazlenuts at a camp found at Cramond in south-east Scotland. The best surviving houses of this culture have been found at Mount Sandel in the extreme north of Ireland and another on the Northumbrian coast in the extreme north-east of England. It is probably that their ancestral areas are partly now under the north sea. It is likely that they had some very distant link to the SW refugia but they had left it some 7000 years earlier and probably arrived in Britain via the dry north sea and crossed to Ireland from the narrow crossing that existed c. 8000BC around the Isle of Man and Scotland.


    2. The first Irish farmers to settle permanently have recently been accurately dated to c. 3750BC. This also was almost certainly down to groups from the stretch of coast from the Rhine to NW France by the short crossings to southern Britain and they only made it to Ireland a couple of centuries later after a slow spread across Britain. The house, burial and artefact types in Ireland are very similar to those of western Britain and much less like any continental ones. The ultimate origins of the Neolithic farmers was probably part of the northern middle Neolithic stream that spread across from north-central Europe. Before that the Balkans are probably the location.

    3. During the Neolithic there was interaction between the continent and western Britain and western Britian and Ireland. This saw the spread of ideas but apparently not many new people other than some wife trading. Despite similar ideas on tombs they kept very different burial traditions, settlement types, pottery etc. In general Ireland and Britain remained infinately closer in all these aspects than either island did with the continent. This climaxed in the mid-late Neolithic with very closely shared ideas in tombs, henges, grooved ware pot, timber circles etc which was a phenomenon of the two islands and quite different to what was going on in the continent - a time of inward looking insularity.

    4. In the beaker period Ireland experienced a peculiar localised culture with a crucial early mine at Ross Island that supplied early beaker people in Ireland, Britain and northern France but remained peculiar in that a new type of megalithic tomb, the Wedge Tomb, appeared c. 500 years after megalithic tomb building and use had died out - replaced by pit cremations, henges etc. Ireland's beaker culture is actually rrather later, daring to about 2400BC and the pottery was most like the British-Rhinish group and possibly also NW France. The early trade network of Irish copper and gold in the beaker period seems to have largely been to Britain and northern France with a few strays further east. That may be the best indicator we have of origins and close cousins.

    5. After the beaker period Ireland and Britain, especially northern and western Britain, were very closely linked in terms of trade, pottery in burials and most cultural aspects throughout the Bronze Age. In the later Bronze Age c. 13000BC-700bc or so Ireland had a bit of a golden age with a huge amount of impressive bronze and gold objects, hillforts etc. Ireland remained close in its cultures to Britain.

    6. The coming of Iron and the consequent loss of importance of Bronze appears to have badly hit the Atlantic elites in places like Ireland. Ireland was especially badly hit and after Hallstatt C it seems to have slipped into isolation and a dark age. New metal types made after 650BC and known on the continent in the Hallstatt D and early La Tene phases are not known in Ireland. This period of isolation is probably why Ireland did not experience the Q to P shift that affected Britain and Gaul. Iberia was also isolated and also did not experience the shift. This does not imply any contact between Ireland and Iberia - not a single Iberian Iron Age object has been found in Ireland - the connection is a myth. This collapse in Ireland was not just at the elite end. The number of domestic sites also collapses in this era, indications of farming through seeds and pollen in bog cores drops away dramatically etc - there was a genuine serious systems collapse and population collapse in Ireland at this time.

    7. Something of a minor revival in terms of both external influences in metalwork, occupation sites etc occurs in the later La Tene period although this is much better represented in the northern two thirds of the island. The material is similar to Britian and Gaulish metalwork of c. 300-0bc and domestic sites also resume around 350BC. In this period Ireland has a peculiar culture combining new elite La Tene objects with what look like old revived Bronze Age burial traditions (rare cremations in barrows) and unique royal regional massive sites that look very like the henges of late Neolithic times. Other features are huge linear tribal defensive ditches. Domestic sites are rare and insubstantial indicating perhaps troubled times or very mobile populations. Some British and Gaulish tribes may have entered the island at this time judging by Ptolemy;s map.

    8. After a lull during the early Roman occupation of Britain pollen cores indicate a massive expansion of the Irish population despite the fact almost no domestic sites are known. Shortly after Irish raids commenced on Roman Britain and some settlement probably occurred as the Romans left.

    9. Christianity came to Ireland through Roman Britons like St. Patrick at the end of the Roman period although Patrick is known to actually have not been the first to come to convert the Irish. It is possible some British immigration to Ireland also occured in this period as so much of the Early Christian material culture is descended from Romano-British types. However the situation is not at all clear. The succeeding period is known as the Early Christian period when the raths and monasteries were built. Isolated from Germanic intrusions Celtic culture survived into the literate period in Ireland, as it also did in Scotland, Wales and western England. This is often seen as Ireland's golden age.

    10. The first Germanics to appear in Ireland, assuming the Cauci of Ptolemy's map were not related to the Germanic Chauci, was a couple of raids by the Northumbrian Angles in the later 600s. Howeve, other than monks, the Anglo-Saxons did not settle in Ireland. The Vikings arrived just before 800AS and settled in the decades after. In Ireland the main types of Viking settlements were trading towns and raiding bases - always on the coast or inland bodies of water. They didnt make large rural settlements except in the close vicinity of their towns. They founded the first nucleated fully secular settlements in historic Ireland including the cities of Cork, Dublin, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick and stuck the first coinage in Ireland. They didnt have towns in the northern half of Ireland although they did have a number of military raiding bases there. In the long run after a great shock and much raiding these towns came under the power of the increasingly powerful Irish kings.

    11. The Normans took control of much of Ireland except most of Ulster and north Connaught. They went into decline and the area under their control shrank to what was known as the Pale in eastern Ireland. Nevertheless they probably had more of a genetic impact than the Vikings with many Irish surnames having Norman origins.

    12. In the plantation of Ulster shortly after 1600, the most native part of Ireland and least effected by the Normans was parceled out to planters who came mostly from lowland Scotland and western England. However only the noble classes were actually removed completely and most ordinary Ulster Irish remained nearby albeit on the poorer lands. Being unnaffected by Viking and Norman settlement followed by sectarian division after the Ulster Plantation probably means that the Ulster native largely Roman Catholic population are probably the least mixed descendants of the pre-Norman Irish.

  2. The Following 14 Users Say Thank You to alan For This Useful Post:

     Anglecynn (10-06-2013),  Cascio (01-10-2018),  Grossvater (10-06-2013),  Ian B (10-08-2013),  jdean (10-06-2013),  Jessie (01-14-2015),  kostoffj (12-09-2017),  MikeWhalen (10-07-2013),  R.Rocca (10-06-2013),  rivergirl (12-10-2017),  rms2 (10-06-2013),  [email protected] (12-09-2017),  TigerMW (12-03-2013),  Torc Seanathair (04-24-2021)

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