Subsistence and Political Economy: Dairying and Change in Late Prehistoric Ireland

Author(s): Erin Crowley

Year: 2017


Cattle played a critical role in the economic and socio-political structure of the Iron Age in Ireland, yet the nature of this relationship is not yet clear. The Irish Iron Age (~500 BC - AD 500) is characterized by scant settlement evidence yet with several large, complex, ceremonial centers. It has been difficult, therefore, to contextualize the nature of social change leading into the Early Medieval Period. The Early Medieval Period (~ AD 500-1100), emerged with a fully-developed dairying economy, complex social structures, and social and political value placed on cattle and dairy products. Recently, however, increased archaeological work has uncovered more evidence of Iron Age settlement, agriculture, and industry. Therefore, we must ask, when did the dairying economy develop in Ireland and how did that shape the cultural landscape? This paper questions our traditional assumption that the dairying economy was as a particular feature of the Early Medieval Period and poses alternative ways of understanding the economy of late prehistoric Ireland. Considering the connection between subsistence and political economy, this paper assesses the potential effects of a dairying economy on regional social and political identity.

Cite this Record

Subsistence and Political Economy: Dairying and Change in Late Prehistoric Ireland. Erin Crowley. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430573)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16285