The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland [Paperback]

Marion Dowd (Author)

ISBN: 9781789255706 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2020 | Language: English 336p, H242 x W170 (mm) b/w and colour illustrations

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The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland


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.

Winner of the Current Archaeology Book of the Year 2016 award.

Winner of the Tratman 2015 Award.

Reviews & Quotes

"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’."
Duncan Berryman
Ulster Journal of Archaeology

"'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
Journal of Irish Archaeology (24/03/2017)

"The Archaeology of Caves in Ireland does indeed set a new agenda for Irish cave archaeology but serves as a sound foundation (and sets a formidable challenge) for similar studies elsewhere."
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society

"The first and sure-to-be definitive baseline statement on the study of cave archaeology in Ireland…"
Niall Brady
Medieval Archaeology

"Handsomely produced and well-illustrated...a benchmark for future studies in Ireland and a model for researchers elsewhere."
Ian Armit
British Archaeology (11/08/2015)

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