The built heritage of Ireland takes many forms and spans thousands of years. Built heritage is one of the most visible features in the Irish countryside, with ringforts, castles, churches and landed gentry houses found in all areas of the island. Built heritage sites in Ireland come under the remit of several national government organisations such as OPW, the Heritage Council and local county councils. All heritage buildings and sites in Ireland are protected by the National Monuments Act (1930) and the Ancient Monuments Protection Act (1882).
Mesolithic Built Heritage
Figure 1 Mount Sandel, Co. Derry
The oldest known archaeological site in Ireland is Mount Sandel Mesolithic site in Coleraine, Co. Derry. Carbon dating has placed the age of the site to be 7,000 B.C. However, while Mount Sandel is the oldest known site of human settlement in Ireland it does not have any remains of buildings, merely indications of where structures had once stood such as post holes left in the ground. Carbon dating of the Mount Sandel site puts it in the Mesolithic era in Ireland, which was a time of hunter gatherer peoples who moved to follow the resources needed to stay alive. This movement of people resulted in their being no major settlements or towns at this time.
Neolithic Built Heritage
Figure 2 Newgrange, Co. Meath
By the Neolithic period in Ireland we begin to see the building of stone structures. Examples of these can be found at the Ceide Fields in Co. Mayo. and Newgrange in Co. Meath. The Ceide Fields are a series of drystone walls, tombs and habitation buildings which were discovered under a peat bog. The site and its structures have been dated to 3,500 B...
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...reland’s heritage. They offer us an insight into what life was like in the period we have covered in this essay. They are physical connections to the past and are hugely relevant to our tourism and heritage industry today. There preservation and restoration can provide for the creation of jobs in the heritage and tourism industries as well as insuring these structures are safe for future generations to see, study and understand Irelands built heritage.
Aalen, A.A., Whelan, K., and Stout, M. (2011) Atlas of the Rural Irish Landscape. Cork: Cork University Press.
Craig, M. (1982) The Architecture of Ireland From the earliest times to 1880. Dublin: Lambay Books
Edwards, N. (1990) The Archaeology of Early Medieval Ireland. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.
Leask, H.G., (1941) Irish Castles and Castellated Houses. Dundalk: Dundalgan Press Ltd.
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