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The author also looks afresh at the controversial question of when the Celts first arrived in Ireland.Pre-Christian Ireland will find a place on the bookshelves of all who are fascinated by the pagan origins of modern Ireland.

Because prehistory - by its very nature - has to deal with speculations, it is natural that the views of archaeologists will conflict, and it is only by weighing up the pros and cons that one can come to the most probable solution to any problem in prehistory, where the absence of writing makes it difficult to make the mute stones speak.

Peter Harbison has written the first full-scale survey of Irish prehistory for a general audience to have appeared for a decade.

Pre-Christian Ireland gives the story of human settlement from the beginnings 10,000 years ago to St Patrick's Christianizing mission in the fifth century AD.

Not until 1699, however, when the Welsh antiquary Edward Lhuyd paid his initial visit to Ireland, did we have our first record in more recent times of a real interest in Ireland's prehistoric antiquities.

Lhuyd, who was a Keeper at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, provided us with the first written account of Newgrange, which had been accidentally opened earlier in the same year.

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