The Decline of the Cow: Agricultural and Settlement Change in Early Medieval Ireland

Finbar McCormick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    This article considers cows and dairying as the basis a17of value system in early societies, particularly in Ireland. Only in a very few instances is it possible to demonstrate that such systems existed. When it does, it can be shown that cows and dairying were imbedded in the social or religious institutions of these cultures. Cattle had a value and meaning much greater than their economic worth in terms of food, hides, tallow etc. Such a systems, however, does not allow economic development as dairy produce does not easily lend itself to the production, and accumulation, of significant surplus nor is dairy produce particularly suitable for economic expansion based on trade. Its perishable nature militates against both roles. In order to develop political power that is based on economic power and wealth it is necessary to change the emphasis from livestock to cereal production.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)210-225
    Number of pages16
    Issue numbernull
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Archaeology
    • Literature and Literary Theory
    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
    • Archaeology
    • Linguistics and Language


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