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Celtic settlements

Archaeologists have found four main types of Celtic settlement in Ireland;
•Raths also called Ringforts or Cashels.
•Promontory Forts



man made islands in lakes.
•Some linked to mainland by wooden bridge, some had secret stepping stones/boats hidden along shore - take the people who lived in crannog across water.
•About 1,200 found.



similar to raths - much bigger, built on a hill.
•Over 50 found.
•Archaeologists think used for important ceremonies eg. religious festivals, markets.
•Celtic Legends - headquarters of important Celtic Kings.
•Examples at Emain Macha (Armagh) and Tara (Meath).


Who lived in the tuaths? (structure of society)

Divided into tuaths.

1.The rí (who belonged to the derbhfine)
3.Aos Dána


Promontory forts

•built on cliff tops.
•mainly found on south and west coasts Ireland.
•example - Dun Aengus on Inis Mor in Aran Islands.
•Archaeologists excavated site for many years. believe that site used for religious purposes.


ogham writing

first written Irish appeared in fifth century, around same time as initial Christianisation of Ireland.

• Called Ogham script - consists of series of grooves on corner of a stone. Each combination of grooves represents different letter of Latin alphabet,

Ogham stones found in Ireland and Wales.
•in Ireland mostly along south coast.
Usually give name of person or ancestor, probably commemorative.


life in celtic Ireland - food

Food produced on farm, - cattle, sheep and pigs also kept.

•Some cattle killed in autumn, salted so meat could be eaten in winter.

Cows - milk, butter, cheese.

•Wheat, oats and barley grown. Wheat + oats make porridge, barley make ale, drunk at feasts.

•grain ground in rotary quern, replaced quern stone.

•meat cooked on spits, also in fulacht fiadh ( Bronze Age), bread baked in stone ovens.

•Feasting important in life of nobles. Feasts held to celebrate victories in battle. bravest warriors entitled to best part of animal, usually pig. called the ‘hero’s portion’.


life in celtic Ireland - clothes

Celts cared about appearance. made from linen and wool.

•Celts loved colour. used huge looms - weave richly dyed wool in colourful plaids.

made tunics from some of their fabrics. men + women wore tunics. man's tunic stopped at knees. woman's floor length. both loosely gathered at waist with belt. Both wore shawls over tunics, wrapped loosely around shoulders. wore leather sandals.

•poor men wore woollen trousers, women wore long, plain wool tunic.


life in celtic Ireland - religion and burial customs

Religion - important part in lives. held druids in high esteem.

• religious holidays or festivals. most important: Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa.

•offered sacrifices to gods, sometimes humans, usually animals.

•Celts cremated dead, placed ashes into simple pit in ground or cist grave.
-buried grave goods, eg. beads and bracelets, to show believed in afterlife.

•built mound of stones over graves.

•Later, Celts erected Ogham stones. may mark graves or land boundaries. ogham alphabet based on Latin alphabet. shows Ireland had many contacts with Roman Empire at time


celtic legacy

Celts left ruins in Ireland.

• Large royal sites eg. Emain Macha and Tara seem used for ritual and kingship purposes, while stone hillforts seem have had much more practical defensive purpose. Many can be seen today.

•language of Celts forms basis of modern Irish.


women in celtic society

Noble women held important position

•Under Brehon law, could own property

•most did not belong to noble classes and had little power or influence

-spent time cooking, spinning, weaving, taking care of children