Cultural Change And The Climate Record In Final Prehistoric And Early Medieval Ireland

Lisa Coyle McClung, Gill Plunkett

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Abstract

To what extent did climate change steer the trajectories of early societies? The final prehistoric (Developed to Late Iron Age) and early medieval periods in Ireland witnessed several major transformations in settlement, economy, material culture and ideology. Here, we review the palaeoenvironmental records to contextualise these transformations in terms of both climate oscillations and land-use history to evaluate whether climate change may have played a role in altering the socio-economic or political framework. We find little evidence that climate change coincided with major cultural alterations in the archaeological record, with pollen records providing important insights into ongoing human activity during times of reduced archaeological visibility. Although palaeoenvironmental records rarely provide sufficient chronological resolution with which to test the effects of abrupt environmental changes on populations, we note no lasting impacts following the proposed downturns that would implicate climate as a determinant of enduring cultural change during these periods. 
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Section C, Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature
Volume120
Early online date08 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 08 Jun 2020

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