National Museum - Archaeology and History
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Tracing Ireland's history at the National Museum of Archaeology
The National Museum of Ireland is free to enter and is spread across four sites in Dublin, covering archaeology, decorative arts and history, country life, and natural history. The archaeology museum is in an imposing building of columns, vaulted ceilings, and marble staircases situated on Kildare Street. It traces Ireland's history from prehistoric times through the Roman, Viking, and medieval periods. The exhibitions are well set out and clearly labelled. The section on Ireland's prehistoric gold, including exquisitely-wrought jewellery from the bronze and iron ages, is particularly interesting. But the most mind-blowing exhibition is called Kingship and Sacrifice, and displays findings related to the ritual killing of presumed royals during the iron age. As part of what are thought to be sovereignty and kingship rituals, people were sacrificed - sometimes brutally - and their bodies tossed into peat bogs (which often marked the boundaries between kingdoms). The anaerobic conditions of the bogs preserved the bodies, some of which are on display. Even after thousands of years you can still make out facial expressions, and in one case, hair! The museum also hosts important religious icons and relics from medieval Christianity, for example the twelfth century Cross of Cong - said once to have contained a fragment of the true cross. If you are at all interested in ancient history, set aside a good couple of hours and explore the museum thoroughly. It's well worth it!
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