Ireland's First Settlers: Time and the Mesolithic [Hardback]

Peter Woodman (Author)

ISBN: 9781782977780 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2015 | Language: English 448p, H279 x W215 (mm) b/w illustrations and 32pp colour plates

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Paperback - ISBN: 9781789256888 - £ 35.00

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Ireland's First Settlers


Ireland’s First Settlers tells the story of the archaeology and history of the first continuous phase of Ireland’s human settlement. It combines centuries of search and speculation about human antiquity in Ireland with a review of what is known today about the Irish Mesolithic. This is, in part, provided in the context of the author’s 50 years of personal experience searching to make sense of what initially appeared to be little more than a collection of beach rolled and battered flint tools.

The story is embedded in how the island of Ireland, its position, distinct landscape and ecology impacted on when and how Ireland was colonised. It also explores how these first settlers evolved their technologies and lifeways to suit the narrow range of abundant resources that were available.

The volume concludes with discussions on how the landscape should be searched for the often ephemeral traces of these early settlers and how sites should be excavated. It asks what we really know about the thoughts and life of the people themselves and what happened to them as farming began to be introduced.

Table of Contents


Part I
1. why
2. Understanding Ireland’s environment and ecology
3. It’s about time

Part II. Laying the foundations
4. Where did it all come from?
5. Chronology, flint facts and other artefacts

Part III. Often an island too far?
6. Anything earlier?
7. The first arrivals
8. Settling in

Part IV. Lifeways
9. Patterns in the landscape
10. Food, sustenance and procurement

Part V. Where to now?
11. A critical analysis of fieldwork and methodolgies
12. Life, death, the universe and everything


Reviews & Quotes

"Woodman's account is a worthwhile step to advance the archaeology of this period."
Don Henson

"Ireland’s First Settlers is an essential researchers’ tool – a poignant, final opportunity to hear the thoughts of a period-defining authority on his most-loved academic subject. "
Ben Elliott
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (15/06/2017)

"Let it be said at once: this is the type of study of the Mesolithic that we need for all countries, and no one is better suited to provide it for Ireland than Peter Woodman… The book is about the first settlers of Ireland, but it is also a tour de force on the Mesolithic of Norway and southern Scandinavia."
Erik Brinch Petersen
Journal of Irish Archaeology (24/03/2017)

"One of the most influential and informative volumes on the Mesolithic of Ireland to be published in recent years, this book sets an extremely high standard of research... Using his extensive knowledge of Europe’s early prehistory, Woodman has set an important baseline in understanding this enigmatic period."
George Nash
Current Archaeology (03/08/2017)

"This is the first comprehensive study of the earliest inhabitants of Ireland. Drawing on a range of sources, it examines their arrival, society, tools, farming practices and so on. "
Una MacConville
Books Ireland (08/01/2016)

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