These four pots were excavated from the Neolithic tomb, known as Dooey's cairn, in Dunloy in County Antrim. Dating to around 2000-4000 BC, Dooey's Cairn is the best preserved court tomb in the North Coast area of Northern Ireland. Archeologists excavated the tomb in 1935 and in 1975, discovering various artifacts such as polished stone axe heads, flint arrows and numerous pieces of pottery. Such artifacts are often found in ancient graves and are associated with rituals surrounding death and the afterlife. People began to make pottery for the first time during the Neolithic period. Pots were made by coiling clay around to build up a pot shape and then smoothing down the sides. Pottery can provide vital clues about how people lived and can help date a site. This pottery is quite elaborately decorated. Imprints of cereal seeds can be seen, which demonstrates that this area was under cultivation.
© National Museums Northern Ireland 2010 Collection Ulster Museum, Belfast. Photograph reproduced courtesy the Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland.