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Farming and foraging in Neolithic Ireland: an archaeobotanical perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2016

Meriel McClatchie
School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Newman Building, Belfield, Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland (Email: School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK
Amy Bogaard
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PG, UK
Sue Colledge
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31–34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK
Nicki J. Whitehouse
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
Rick J. Schulting
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PG, UK
Philip Barratt
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
T. Rowan McLaughlin
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK


Ireland has often been seen as marginal in the spread of the Neolithic and of early farming throughout Europe, in part due to the paucity of available data. By integrating and analysing a wealth of evidence from unpublished reports, a much more detailed picture of early arable agriculture has emerged. The improved chronological resolution reveals changing patterns in the exploitation of different plant species during the course of the Neolithic that belie simplistic notions of a steady intensification in farming, juxtaposed with a concomitant decline in foraging. It is possible that here, as in other areas of Europe, cereal cultivation became less important in the later Neolithic.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2016 

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