Although Ireland is commonly perceived both academically as well as by the public as the archetypical 'Celtic' country, the archaeological record has actually never provided unambiguous evidence for this. Until recently, questions of cultural identity in this period (c. 800BC-AD400) could not be addressed satisfactorily as evidence for any human activity was effectively absent for large parts of the country and the period. While the iconic Royal sites such as Tara or Navan and some of the finest examples of European Celtic style metalwork suggested the presence of a populous and sophisticated society, no evidence for the everyday lives of these people had been found. In addition, a lack of virtually any evidence for any human activity between c.800-400BC made it impossible to progress the debate about cultural and ethnic identities. Ideas about these issues were shaped either by concepts of a hierarchical Continental Celtic culture, or by over-literal readings of the highly problematic early Irish medieval written records often thought to contain echoes of prehistoric social structures. A similar debate with strikingly different resonance has been led about the Roman or Romano-British material. This has, like the 'Celtic' finds, been discussed as either evidence for an invasion or the results of some other form of contact with little impact on the ethnic or political structure of the country. Ironically, while the 'Celtic' material is in the public accepted as evidence for an ethnic 'Celticisation' of the country, the Romano-British equivalent is rejected as implying any such process. Disjointed from the academic debate about these issues, the idea of a Celtic country that was never subjected to any significant influence from the Roman world is deeply embedded in Irish public consciousness, and similarly so in other modern 'Celtic' countries such as Scotland, Wales or Brittany. An enormous increase in the number and scale of excavations during the building boom years of the 'Celtic Tiger' and the large-scale application of scientific dating techniques have now finally produced the previously missing evidence for life and living in the Iron Age. This data has been collated and examined in two previous projects in which the applicant has been directly involved. Initial data was collated and reviewed in a Pilot Project directed by the applicant and funded by the Heritage Council of Ireland (2008). Subsequently the project 'Mobility, Climate and Culture: Re-modelling the Irish Iron Age' was funded through a British Academy Research Development Award (BARDA) directed by Professor Ian Armit (mentor for the current proposal). The present applicant was the post-doctoral fellow on the BARDA project and is co-author of all outputs. Together these projects have compiled more than 2000 radiocarbon dates from some 700 sites, transforming our potential for understanding of Iron Age Ireland. So far, however, the new dataset has been examined only quantitatively, in relation to issues of climate, demography and broad-scale period changes. The proposed study will provide a qualitative, interpretative study of the period that will explore in depth the life styles, economic and social structures of the Iron Age people of Ireland and tackle the issue of cultural identity during this formative period at the end of Irish prehistory. The discussion of cultural identity and change has always been central to the study of the Iron Age. After the abandonment of the Celtic paradigm in wide parts of Europe, these themes have recently moved into the focus of international academic debate once more. The newly assembled record from Ireland will allow us to address these problematic issues in a completely new manner and to contribute to the development of new models for cultural change in this period as exemplified in the 'Celtic' La Tène style material as well as the Roman material from Ireland at the periphery of both the 'Celtic' and the Roman worlds.