The Stone Age The Ice Age in Ireland lasted from 30,000 years ago until close to 12,000 years ago

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The Stone Age

The Ice Age in Ireland lasted  from 30,000 years ago until close to 12,000 years ago.

  • The Ice Age in Ireland lasted  from 30,000 years ago until close to 12,000 years ago.
  • When it came to an end, the ice melted and the sea levels rose.
  • New plants and animals came to Ireland from Britain and the Continent.
  • At some time, people came in dugout canoes and skin-covered boat

The word ‘Lithos’ means Stone This ancient time is called the Stone Age because people made their tools and weapons from stone.

There are 3 ‘Stone Ages’

  • Palaeolithic Ancient or Old Stone Age
  • (2 million years ago – 12000 BC no evidence of people living in Ireland)
  • Mesolithic – Middle Stone Age
  • (12000 BC – 7000BC First people in Ireland)
  • Neolithic – New Stone Age
  • (7000 BC – 2000 BC First farmers in Ireland)

Paleolithic – Old Stone Age

  • These earliest people survived by hunting and gathering. Archaeologists have not found evidence of them in Ireland but they may some day.
  • We do know that people were in Ireland by 7000 BC.
  • How do you think the first people came to Ireland?

Mesolithic – Middle Stone Age

  • Archaeologists have excavated sites that show the earliest known human settlements found in Ireland.
  • One site is Mount Sandal, Co. Derry showing people of Mesolithic origin.

They were known as hunter-gatherers

  • They were known as hunter-gatherers
  • They hunted wild boar and birds like duck and pigeon.
  • They also fished around the coasts and in the rivers
  • They gathered berries and hazelnuts
  • They cooked their food on spits.
  • They were nomadic people – when the food ran out where they lived, they moved on to another place

Where did they live?

  • Stone Age people lived in pointed huts made from timber posts and twigs, covered in sods of earth or animal skins.

People in this era lived near rivers, lakes or the coast

  • People in this era lived near rivers, lakes or the coast
  • Their Houses were easily built – lights branches of trees set into the grounds and covered by skins, grass leaves or brushes tied together by animal hide or guts
  • In the centre of the house or hut was a fireplace

Stone Age Diet

What did they wear?

  • They probably wore animal skins.

What tools did they use?

  • Archaeologists discovered that the stone used was ‘flint’.
  • It could be shaped easily for cutting.
  • When flint is struck with another rock it creates sparks making fire.


  • Archaeologists found stone tools made from flint.
  • Tiny pieces of flint are called ‘microliths’.
  • Bone and timber were also discovered which were used with flint to make arrowheads and saws.
  • Why did Stone Age people need these type of tools?

Stone Age Tools

  • What do you think these tools were used for?

Revision of Mesolithic

  • What does Mesolithic mean?
  • Why is it called Stone Age?
  • What was flint?
  • What were mircoliths?
  • Why were they known as ‘Hunter-Gatherers’?
  • They lived a ‘nomadic’life? Explain.

Where have archaeologists found evidence of Mesolithic times?

  • Where have archaeologists found evidence of Mesolithic times?
  • What are ‘post-holes’?
  • How did they make their clothes?
  • How did they cook their food?
  • What type of food did they eat?

Neolithic – New Stone Age

  • Around 3500 BC Archaeologists began to notice important changes when excavating sites.
  • They found less pollen from trees and more from grass. What does this tell us?
  • They found pollen from wheat and barley.
  • They found bones from cattle, sheep and goats.

Neolithic – The first farmers.

  • Gradually the stone age people developed from hunter-gatherers to become farmers.
  • Farming gave them a more regular supply of food. It meant that they settled for longer on the land and built stronger houses.
  • Archaeologists have found Neolithic sites at Lough Gur, Co Limerick and the Céide Fields in Co Mayo

Did their houses change?

  • New Stone Age people made their houses from wood in round and regular as can be seen in the previous image.
  • What was the difference between Mesolithic and Neolithic houses?

Neolithic Houses

Neolithic Houses

  • In pairs read the information on Neolithic houses and answer the following questions:
  • Describe the shape of the Neolithic houses?
  • Describe how the houses were made. Use the following words in your description; timber posts; wattle; daub; thatched.
  • What do you think it was like inside the house?
  • Why were Neolithic houses stronger than Mesolithic ones?


  • What type of clothes do you think they wore?
  • 2. What were their clothes made?


  • Neolithic people hunted with polished axes which were better quality than the axes that the Mesolithic people used. The Neolithic people were more advanced and developed.
  • Task
  • Name three weapons or tools and explain what they were used for.

Crafts -Pottery

  • The stone age people made pottery that they used for cooking, storing food and in burial ceremonies.
  • Describe how Neolithic people
  • made pots from pottery.

Megalithic Tombs (Great Stone Tombs)

  • The 3 different types of Neolithic Tombs are :
  • Court Cairns,
  • Portal Dolmens
  • Passage Graves.

Burial Customs

  • Court Cairns – these tombs had an open area or court at the entrance.
  • Bodies were cremated before they were buried in the chamber part which was made of standing stones.
  • Then it was covered over with small pebbles known as ‘cairn’.

A Court Cairn

Portal Dolmens

  • These tombs had 3 large standing stones called portals which we saw in the previous picture.
  • A large capstone was laid on top to make a roof for the tomb.
  • The cremated bodies were placed under the capstone and covered with a heap of smaller stones.

Portal Dolmens

Passage Tombs

  • Archaeologists have found examples of passage graves in Co. Meath at Dowth, Knowth and Newgrange.
  • These are Ireland’s largest tombs. In each a stone lined passage leads to one or more burial chambers. The whole tomb is covered with a mound of stones or earth.

Passage Graves

  • Newgrange, Co. Meath

Grave Goods

  • The cremated bodies were placed in megalithic tombs along with things they may need in the afterlife – grave goods.


  • Slide 1 Image:
  • Map:
  • House:
  • Reconstruction Hunter-Gatherer Hut:

Clothes & people:

  • Clothes & people:
  • Flint:
  • Stone Tools:
  • Houses:,
  • Neolithic Clothes:
  • Neolithic Weapons:


  • Pottery:
  • Court Cairn:
  • Dolmen:
  • Passage Tomb:
  • Grave Goods:

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