What was life like for Ireland’s first settlers?

As the Ice Age came to an end and the earth became gradually warmer, new plants and trees were able to grow in northern Britain and Ireland for the first time.

The forests and woodland that now covered most of this area provided the perfect home for the deer, wild boar and humans who roamed the land in search of food in the Mesolithic time period.

The hunter-gatherers who lived in Ireland around this time tended to travel from place to place foraging and hunting for food. However, thanks to the discovery of the settlement at Mount Sandel, historians were able to work out that by 8000BC these Irish hunter-gatherers were beginning to put down more permanent roots and live for longer just in one place. What other things was Mount Sandel able to reveal about our Mesolithic ancestors?

Mountsandel
A food programme would have been pretty boring before hunter-gatherers came along.

Click on each label to discover more about the different types of food Mountsandel's hunter-gatherers were eating.

When archaeologists first discovered Mountsandel, the hearth (a fireplace used to cook) they found at the site allowed them to work out when exactly humans first settled there and what foods they were eating.

Activity

Visit your local museum or go to its website and find out if they have Mesolithic artefacts there.

If not, what is the oldest item they have on display in the museum?

Draw it and write a paragraph about it.

The Ulster Museum

Early Ireland, there's more to learn...

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What was life like for Ireland’s first settlers?