The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland [Paperback]

Marion Dowd(Author)

ISBN: 9781789255706 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2021 | 336p, H9.5 x W6.7, b/w and color illustrations
Status: In Stock - Available

The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland


Winner of the Current Archaeology Book of the Year 2016 award.Winner of the Tratman 2015 Award.

The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland is a ground-breaking and unique study of the enigmatic, unseen and dark silent world of caves. People have engaged with caves for the duration of human occupation of the island, spanning 10,000 years. In prehistory, subterranean landscapes were associated with the dead and the spirit world, with evidence for burials, funerary rituals and votive deposition. The advent of Christianity saw the adaptation of caves as homes and places of storage, yet they also continued to feature in religious practice. Medieval mythology and modern folklore indicate that caves were considered places of the supernatural, being particularly associated with otherworldly women. Through a combination of archaeology, mythology and popular religion, this book takes the reader on a fascinating journey that sheds new light on a hitherto neglected area of research. It encourages us to consider what underground activities might reveal about the lives lived aboveground, and leaves us in no doubt as to the cultural significance of caves in the past.

Reviews & Quotes

"“The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland is an impressive and much-needed contribution to both Irish archaeology and speleoarchaeology in general. I expect to see it become the cornerstone of a developing Irish cave focus… Unless I am badly mistaken, this book will initiate a dramatic increase in cave investigations in the immediate future.” "
James E Brady
(Volume XXIV, 2015)

"Groundbreaking and unique, it takes readers on a fascinating journey and encourages them to consider what underground activities might reveal about the lives lived aboveground, leaving no doubt as to the cultural significance of caves in the past. The book will raise awareness of, and interest in, Irish cave archaeology, inform wider archaeological discourse, contribute to international cave archaeology studies, stimulate future research projects and, most importantly, be an interesting read. "
Savannah Jones

"Despite its richly illustrated regional focus, then, this book is of international significance, and Dowd’s holistic approach to cave archaeology is undoubtedly one to follow."


""This is a well-researched book that is comprehensive in its coverage. It is based on an impressive review of the literature and historical archives and the author's personal visit to more than 100 caves in Ireland. It is well illustrated with excellent color plates, drawings, and other illustrations."

"In summary, Dowd's book is rich in detail. It is an enjoyable read and I learned much about a cave region of which I had previous knowledge."
George M. Crothers
Journal of Cave and Karst Studies (05/2016)

"This book is excellently written, both informative and interesting. It is illustrated throughout with photographs, drawings of artefacts and plans of the caves. It is an important addition to a library of Irish archaeology and truly deserving of the accolade of CA’s ‘Book of the Year’."

(Spring Newsletter)

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