Early Medieval Period 400 – 1150 a.d

From the late 4th century Ireland began to convert to Christianity and the foundation of monasteries spread throughout the Island. These developed to become our first ‘towns’ with streets, churches, schools, round towers and defensive walls. They became great European centres for all types of craftwork culminating with the creation of our decorated manuscripts (e.g. Book of Kells). The Vikings arrived during this period but after a bit of raiding and pillaging they settled down and introduced coinage, developed international trade routes as well as establishing our first real towns such as Dublin, Waterford and Limerick.

Monuments for this period include Churches, Ecclesiastical enclosed sites, High Crosses, Round towers, Ogham stones, Ring forts, Crannogs, Souterrains and Promontory forts…as well as exceptional metalworking like the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice.

Here are some significant examples of buildings, landmarks and monuments built during the Early Medieval period 400 – 1150 a.d (early Christian)

One of the most picturesque churches in Ireland

Gougane Barra, Ballingeary, County Cork. 6th - 19th century Gougane Barra is a wild and wonderful glaciated valley located in the Shehy Mountains in West Cork. The name translates to mean 'Finbarr's Rock' and is [...]

Site of the earliest known Irish Parliament & The oldest intact stone window in Western Europe

Castledermot, County Kildare    7th – 18th century a. d.    Castledermot packs a big punch for having historical buildings. This small town was originally called 'Diseart Diarmad'; meaning 'Dermot's Hermitage'. This was once a very [...]

St Brigid’s High Cross – Ireland’s first Spice Girl

St Bridget's High Cross is located in Kildare Town. co.Kildare. It dates somewhere between the 9th to the 12th century and stands 9 feet tall in the grounds of St Bridget's Cathedral. The cross is [...]

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Extreme monasticism & Star Wars!

Skellig Michael. County Kerry        c. 6th – 13th century a. d. Skellig Michael or ‘Michael’s Rock in the Sea’ is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located 13 km off the Kerry coastline [...]

The House of Tua, 2 buildings separated by a 1000 years & Ultan the Silent

Taghadoe Round Tower, Taghadoe. co.Kildare c.10th Century. This place derives its name from 'Teach Tua', meaning 'House of Tua'. St Tua, also known as Ultan the Silent, was the Abbot of Clonmacnoise who founded the [...]

The earliest dateable stone monument in Ireland

Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone, Jonesborough. County Armagh    700 a.d. The Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone dates to 700 a. d. and is one of the earliest datable stone monuments in Ireland. It stands 6 feet tall and the [...]

The first stone built church in Ireland

Duleek Church in co. Meath was built in the 6th or 7th century a.d and is reputedly the first stone church to be built in the country. This historic village began as an early Christian [...]

Ireland’s first and most important Cistercian Abbey

Mellifont Abbey, Tullyallen. County Meath   1142 Mellifont Abbey was founded by St Malachy in 1142. This was the first, the richest and the most important of Ireland's 35 Cistercian abbeys. The Cistercian Order was established [...]

Europe’s largest collection of medieval & Celtic architecture in a single site

The Rock of Cashel, Cashel. County Tipperary      c. 1100 – 1400 a. d. The Rock of Cashel is one of the most striking monuments in Ireland and has some of the finest collections of Celtic [...]

One of Ireland’s most iconic buildings

This National Monument is the Gallarus Oratory. It is located near Gallarus on the Dingle Peninsula in co. Kerry and is one of Ireland's most iconic buildings. It's simple and stunning shape has been compared [...]

Ireland’s, could be Europe’s and possibly the World’s oldest pub!

Sean's Bar is located in Athlone in co.Westmeath. This is not only the oldest bar in Ireland, but also in Europe and possibly the World dating from 900 a.d. This was officially certified by The [...]

One of Ireland’s most important ecclesiastical centres

The monastery of Clonmacnoise was founded by St Ciarán in 546 a.d. and is one of Ireland's most important ecclesiastical centres. St Ciaran was a young preacher from Roscommon who in 545 a.d convinced the local [...]

A masterpiece of sculpture & The second tallest High Cross in Ireland

The Moone High Cross, Moone. County Kildare   10th century a. d.   The Moone High Cross is regarded as a masterpiece among granite crosses. It is the second tallest in Ireland and is one of [...]

An Abbey with some of Ireland’s finest early architecture founded by a great King

Cong Abbey is located in Cong, co. Mayo. This national monument was founded on the former site of St Feichins Monastery by the great High King Turlough Mor O'Connor in 1135. The Abbey contains some [...]

The Cooley Cross, The Skull House & The remains of a saint

The Cooley Cross, Moville. County Donegal        c. 8th or 9th century a. d. The Cooley Cross is located just outside the perimeter walls of a beautiful old graveyard that overlooks Lough Foyle. This is an [...]

A tranquil location, An impressive 7th century saint & Ancient prayers for the local farmers

St Moling's Well is located in the townland of Mullennakill in county Kilkenny. St Molin was a 7th century saint who worked under St Brendan. This beautiful woodland location over looking the River Arigle is [...]

A Christian Cross with a Pagan base

Kilgobbin Cross is located in Stepaside villagein south co. Dublin. It was found in 1800 when a wall for the nearby graveyard was being built. It stands over 8 feet tall and can be estimated [...]

Regarded as the most beautiful High Cross in the World

This National Monument is the wonderful Muiredach’s High Cross located in Monasterboice, co. Louth. It is regarded as the most beautiful Celtic cross in the World and Ireland’s greatest contribution to European sculpture. It stands 18 [...]

”Probably’ Ireland’s most iconic buildings, 2 lakes & a village idiot

Glendalough Round Tower & St. Kevin’s Kitchen, Glendalough. County Wicklow Glendalough Round Tower and St Kevin's Kitchen are located in the beautiful glaciated valley of Glendalough in county Wicklow. These are some of Ireland's most [...]

The seat of the O’Neills, Grainan of Aileach & Inishowen

Grainan of Aileach, Burt. County Donegal      fort - c. 700 a. d.   site - c. 1700 b. c. Grainan of Aileach sits on a hilltop 800 feet above sea level and the original construction for [...]

Ireland’s most impressive and beautiful monastic settlement

St Kevin's Church, Glendalough. County Wicklow      c. 12th century This national monument is one of Ireland's most iconic buildings and dates from the 12th century. St Kevin's was born in 498 into a [...]

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