The Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age
Most art in pre – Christian Ireland is abstract. It reflected the technical, social and intellectual developments of the time. The pace of change in art and technology was slow at first; it took 5,000 years from the arrival of the first stone age people for metal technology to be developed in Ireland with the introduction of copper and bronze. It took 1.500 years for iron technology to arrive and 500 more years for the major social and intellectual changes that came with Christianity.
The Stone Age (7000 BC to 2000 BC)
Human settlement began in Ireland around 7000 BC, during the Mesolithic or middle stone Age. The earliest people were hunter gatherers, they probably crossed by boat from Britain at a spot where the Irish sea was narrow enough to enable them to see the coast of Ireland in the distance. The forests and rivers of Ireland would have made rich hunting grounds for these people, who would have moved with the seasons to where food was most plentiful.
During the Neolithic or New Stone age (3700 to 2000 BC), farming and animal rearing people settled in Ireland, clearing forests to plant crops and fencing off areas of land to control domestic animals. There is evidence of permanent communities all over Ireland and contacts from Britain and Europe. These were the people who built the Megalithic structures we can still see today.
Stone Age Structures (architecture)
The works of art and construction that survive from the Stone age are generally associated with ritual sites and places of importance to these first Irish people. Little evidence of their everyday lives or language survives, but we can find remains of the tombs they built to revere their dead. These early farmers brought seeds for crops and domestic animals to Ireland and had developed skills beyond the simple hunting and gathering society that first lived there. They had enough spare time to think out, plan and build large