Early Bronze Age Ireland 2500 -1200BC
The main characteristics which distinguish the Neolithic period and the Early Bronze Age are seen in changes in pottery shape and use, refinement of flint heads for more effective hunting (ie barbed-and-tanged arrowhead) and the introduction of metal implements. There is little evidence of Early Bronze Age settlement in Ireland, but the few remains suggest that it consisted of small groups of rectangular and circular dwellings surrounded by timber palisades. These farmsteads would have been spread out in a patchwork of clearings surrounded by forest.
A change in burial patterns at this time suggests a shift in societal focus from the communal to the individual. The dead were either interred in a pit or stone cist or their cremated remains were deposited in an urn or other funeral pottery before internment. Grave goods included weapons, tools, ornaments and animal bones.
Early Bronze Age metalwork began with the production of simple copper and bronze axes and daggers and some gold ornaments. As the age progressed, more elaborate axes, longer daggers, halberds and spears were produced. These metal weapons were the preserve of the higher ranking members of the society whereas the rest of the community used a bow and arrow for hunting or fighting.
Navan Fort in the Early Bronze AgeThe beginning of the Bronze Age witnesses another phase of woodland regeneration followed by more clearance. Navan Fort witnessed a substantial forest clearance around 1900BC suggesting the expansion of arable agriculture in the vicinity. Pollen finds from Loughnashade indicate an increase in arable cultivation in the early part of the Bronze Age 1900-1000BC. This coincides with the criss cross grooves made by ploughing on the surface of the hilltop at site B.
An early, rather thick example of a dirk ( a long dagger) is supposed to have been found near ‘the great Navan Rath’.