Using the latest archaeological information, this book presents an up-to-date account of Ireland in the millennium before the coming of Christianity. New findings indicate that the construction of the country's great royal centres, such as Tara and Emain Macha, coincides with the first appearance in Ireland of the material culture of the European Celts. Raftery argues that these La Tène artefacts were the portable trappings of a rising aristocratic élite, which expressed its power by building highly visible monuments. He also discusses the advances that took place in travel and transport; the lives of common Celtic people; technology and art, including gold and stoneworking; and the complex religious beliefs exemplified by standing stones and offerings in rivers and lakes. Also included is the latest material concerning Ireland's contacts with the Roman world, and a review of the question whether La Tène culture spread to Ireland through invasion or peaceful diffusion.
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