Cultural change and the climate record in final prehistoric and early medieval Ireland

Lisa Coyle McClung, Gill Plunkett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
501 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)129-158
JournalProceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Section C, Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural change and the climate record in final prehistoric and early medieval Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this