Ancient Ireland

Ancient Ireland

All Ages

Geography

History

Science

Explore Ireland during the Neolithic period and find out how the first farmers transformed the native landscape.

avatar Submitted By: Jonathan Small

April 12, 2021

Download Assets

Skills

  • Character
  • Critical Thinking
  • Project Based Learning

External References

National Museums Northern Ireland

Follow this link to learn more about our collections and to plan a visit to one of our sites.

Supporting Files

Teaching Guide


These files will help you install the Ancient Ireland world and packs. They also provide instructions for some of the activities and a world map.

Minecraft World


Download the Ancient Ireland world file here and open with Minecraft: Education Edition.

Learning Objectives

  • Students understand how to investigate the past and how to interpret evidence.
  • Students understand the similarities and differences between the Neolithic world and the modern world.
  • Students understand that farming was central to Neolithic communities.
  • Students understand that people during the Neolithic lived in permanent settlements and what their houses looked like.
  • Students understand that people during the Neolithic had different attitudes to death and constructed megalithic tombs for their ancestors.
  • Students understand the impact that people have on the landscape, i.e. that the landscape was much more forested and had to be cleared to make way for farming.

Guiding Ideas

This lesson will transport students six thousand years into the past, allowing them to explore Ireland during the Neolithic period! This was a very exciting time when new settlers came to Ireland, bringing with them a totally different way of life. Instead of hunting, fishing and gathering wild resources, these settlers farmed the land and raised domestic animals. They lived in permanent villages and built huge monuments to their ancestors.

By playing through the world and speaking to the characters students will begin to understand the life and culture of people living in Ireland during the Neolithic period.

Students are encouraged to think about the world that they are exploring, especially around the following questions:

  • What did the Neolithic landscape look like?
  • Was Ireland densely populated during the Neolithic?
  • How did people get food and raw materials during the Neolithic?
  • What were Neolithic villages like and how were they different from modern settlements?
  • What were Neolithic attitudes towards death and the afterlife?

Student Activities

1. Neolithic Adventure

Students can use the portal in the World Hub to travel to the Neolithic Adventure world. The world is filled with NPCs, artefacts, buildings, farms and tombs which the students can explore and discover. There are also different activities for the students to take part in:

  • Students should speak to NPCs to find out about life during the Neolithic.
  • Some NPCs need help with different tasks and will guide the students through these activities.
  • Students can help to expand the village by building another house. Students should think about how the forests have to be cleared to make settlements and farms – what would happen to the landscape if more and more people arrived?
  • Students can prepare a new field, plant crops, and then harvest them.
  • Students can round up wild animals and bring them into the pens to domesticate them.
  • Students can collect raw materials from animals to make new sets of clothing.
  • Students can build a new megalithic tomb for the villagers.
  • Students can quarry flint and create tools, and dig clay to make pottery.

2. Excavation

Students can travel to the Excavation section of the hub to take part in an archaeological excavation. Detailed instructions can be found in the supporting “Excavation Guide” PDF.

  • Students have to excavate the soil carefully, layer by layer, to uncover the structures and artefacts beneath.
  • Students can make a record of what they find by drawing a plan of the features on grid paper.
  • Once they reach bedrock students can bring their artefacts to the Finds Expert and the Radiocarbon Scientist. They will be able to analyse the pottery and stone tools, and provide a radiocarbon date for organic evidence (charcoal, seeds, wood).
  • At the end students should discuss their findings and try to interpret the site by figuring out what the structures are, what type of activities happened there and how long ago it happened.

3. Museum

Students can explore the Museum to view Neolithic artefacts and find out some information about them.

  • Students should think about how these objects were made, and how much effort and skill this might have involved. Students should also discuss how much of the landscape would have to be explored to make everyday items.
  • Students should think about the different types of materials that the artefacts are made from. Are there some types of material that will survive better in the ground?
  • Students should discuss the objects together and think about modern day alternatives to Neolithic tools. What do we now use for cooking, storage, clothing etc?
  • Some of these objects are on display in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Teachers may wish to consider a visit to the Early Peoples galleries to complement the Minecraft lesson.

4. Free Build

Students can travel to the Free Build section of the hub.

  • In this area they can enter Creative Mode to build their own houses, farms, monuments etc.
  • Students can base this on the Neolithic Adventure world, their own research, or they can use their imagination.

Performance Expectations

  • Students should document their journey using the camera, book and quill. They can take photographs and then write a brief note describing their thoughts. What do they think about the different aspects of Neolithic life? Would they enjoy living in this time? What would they miss about modern life? What wouldn't they miss?
  • Students should understand that Neolithic people were the first farmers – before this people hunted wild animals, caught fish, and gathered wild plants.
  • Students should understand that because Neolithic people had to look after farms they lived in substantial timber houses in permanent settlements; this is the origin of modern towns and cities. Before this people tended to live a mobile life without a permanent home.
  • Students should understand that Neolithic people relied on the natural environment for materials for tools and buildings, and that these materials came from across large areas.
  • Students should appreciate that people during the Neolithic had a different belief system and a different attitude towards death and burial.
  • Students should appreciate that we can only understand this period by carrying out archaeological excavations. They should understand that this is a careful process (not “treasure hunting”!) and the evidence has to be pieced together and interpreted.

This project was led by Jonathan Small (Queen’s University Belfast) with support from National Museums Northern Ireland.

Skills

  • Character
  • Critical Thinking
  • Project Based Learning

External References

National Museums Northern Ireland

Follow this link to learn more about our collections and to plan a visit to one of our sites.

Supporting Files

Teaching Guide


These files will help you install the Ancient Ireland world and packs. They also provide instructions for some of the activities and a world map.

Minecraft World


Download the Ancient Ireland world file here and open with Minecraft: Education Edition.