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The Iron Age

Iron was first used in this part of the world, around 600 BCE.  It was much harder than bronze, maintaining a cutting edge for far longer, but it was also considerably more difficult to work, requiring specialist metal workers; bronze could be melted and cast whereas iron needed much hotter temperatures and skilled hammering. However, iron ore was abundant than the copper and tin needed to make bronze, making iron items available to more than just the elite, and more functional than just ceremonial.

Towards the end of the Bronze age and in the early Iron Age the climate worsened in Britain, becoming colder and wetter.  This made some land unsuitable for farming, and may have put pressure on ‘land ownership’. Living conditions changed too, most people living in undefended timber/wattle, thatched houses, typically communal round-houses, but beginning to build defensive duns, forts or brochs.  Additionally crannogs were constructed, either for living or for ceremonial or burial purposes. These structures on Mull are described on the ‘Living’ pages of the website, click here for a link.

During the Iron Age, cremation became more common than inhumation, and the cremated remains were buried in ‘urn-fields’; these have rarely been discovered.  Only burials of very powerful people were likely to be marked more permanently.