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By Paul F. State

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And then a change set in. E. E. some groups were no longer cremating their dead but burying them each in a single grave, often with an original type of very well made and beautifully decorated pottery vessel. A new group of people with new skills had reached Ireland. E. in Ireland derived from changes in religious beliefs, but the pottery and other objects found at tomb sites show that novel developments had taken place. New types of vessels known as beaker pottery, probably used as drinking cups, as well as pots and urns that archaeologists assume were filled with food for the dead have been unearthed.

Money in this entirely rural society meant milk cows, a young heifer (sét, modern Irish séad) serving as the basic unit, although female slaves were used as higher units, equal to six séts. Túath-based society was strictly hierarchical, divided into kings, lords, and commons. The brehon lawyers precisely defined divisions 17 A Brief History of Ireland and subdivisions of classes because status was the means by which legal rights and powers were measured. The distinction between lords and commons was fluid, depending not only on birth but also wealth, and individuals could rise or fall in status.

This time they came to stay. They proceeded to conquer the island up to the Scottish Highlands, building forts along the Forth-Clyde isthmus. ) could see the coast of Ireland clearly in the distance, and contacts with the island’s inhabitants had undoubtedly been made. The historian Tacitus (ca. 56–ca. 120) recorded: “In regard to soil, climate, and the character and ways of its inhabitants . . it is not markedly different from Britain: We are better informed, thanks to the trade of merchants, about the approaches to the island and its harbours” (Tacitus 1914, 211).

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