Louth has a long history (and prehistory) of human occupation, with archaeological remains dating right back to the Mesolithic, which began around 9,000 years ago, when the first people arrived on Ireland's shores, probably in skin boats. It is thought that people did not live in Ireland during the preceding Palaeolithic period. The quarries at Mell, near Drogheda, furnished one of the very few Palaeolithic tools ever found in Ireland, but it is thought that this was originally made and dropped on what was then dry land in the Irish Sea basin and carried up into County Louth by a later re-advance of the Scottish ice-sheet.
Record of Monuments and Places (Sites and Monuments Record)
More than 1500 sites are recorded in Louth's 'Record of Monuments and Places', established under the National Monuments Acts. More than 20 of these 'recorded monuments' are National Monuments in the 'traditional' sense of 'important recorded monuments that have been deliberately taken into state ownership or guardianship' (see the map). County Louth has the third highest of national monuments in Ireland, after Meath and Dublin. One current interpretation of the law, that any 'recorded monument' existing on land that is in the ownership or guardianship of a statutory body is 'automatically' a national monument, would mean a very much higher (but so far uncalculated) total. All medieval town walls and related defences are now considered to be 'national monuments'. Positive Ministerial Consent is required to alter any national monument.
You may view the Sites and Monuments record for Louth at the website www.archaeology.ie. Once the map viewer has loaded, simply select 'Louth' in the county dropdown list on the right-hand side. You can then view all records for Louth, or select a town or townland to view only the monuments in that area. You may also zoom in and out for different degrees of detail.
Louth's archaeological heritage is protected under the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2004.