Broyhill Family History

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Ancient Ireland

     Britain's close proximity to Europe invited invasion, but Ireland was comparatively remote and inaccessible. The earliest archaeological sites date from only 6,000 B.C., suggesting that human occupation did not begin until a relatively late date. Prior to the seventh century, literary sources are limited to sagas and poems and it is often difficult to associate archaeological remains with language groups, but there is little doubt that there were many connections with northern Britain. Celtic hillforts were scattered across the hillsides, Gaelic (Celtic) was the common language and the inhabitants were called Hiberni. 3rd century Latin writers confirm the Celtic nature of Ireland and make frequent reference to raids on England. The Irish were then called the Scotti. In the second half of the 4th century when Roman power in Britain was beginning to crumble, the raids became incessant and Irish settlements appeared along the west coast of Britain and extensively in Wales and Scotland. 7th century biographers Tirechan and Muirchu credit St. Patrick with converting all the Irish to Christianity and won for him the status of national apostle.
     The first appearance of the Norsemen on the Irish coast is recorded in 795. It was followed by frequent plundering raids, sometimes far inland. Gradually, without quite abandoning piracy, the Vikings became traders in close association with the Irish and their commercial towns became a new element in the life of the country. The decline of Norse power began in 968 when they lost Limerick and was completed in 1014 when the Scandinavian allies of the king of Dublin were defeated by High King Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf.