Evidence left behind

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Evidence left by people who once lived in Ireland

There are many kinds of evidence that give us clues about who lived in Ireland long ago. One kind of evidence can be found in the land around us. We can see buildings or ruins left from long ago. Some of this evidence is very old and some is more recent.

Read the information below about what evidence we have about homes in the past. You will find out more about the people who lived in these homes as you read through the site.


The Celts built some huge stone forts on hillsides. They sometimes built on top of an earlier settlement. The remains of a cliff-top stone fortress can still be seen today on the Aran Islands.


During the 7th century, Irish people started making their homes stronger and more resilient by building them on artificial islands in lakes. This new way of building made it very difficult to attack these homes and therefore provided safety for the occupants. Some crannógs were later used as refuge places during the time of the Tudor wars in Ireland .


It is thought that from the late Iron Age onwards, people in Ireland made underground chambers and passages called souterrains. In Irish, these were called an uamh which means a cave. Some of these chambers were actually made out of existing caves that people found near their homes. Others were artificial caves and passageways which had to be cut out from earth or stone and then roofed with flags of stone.

Many soutterains have been found near the coast and it is therefore likely that they were used as places to escape from quickly. Pottery and other household items have been found in some of the souterrains, which might suggest that some of these chambers were used occasionally as homes. You could not stand up straight in most souterrains so they would not have been good homes. They would therefore have been mainly used for temporary shelter. Almost all souterrains date from about the seventh to ninth centuries AD.