Vessel from Ciempozuelos (Spain) dated from the Bronze Age (National Archaeological Museum of SpainMadrid)

The Beaker Culture refers to a widely scattered European culture extending into the bronze age and is best seen not only as a style of pottery but as an entire and complete culture which developed a high standard of metal work in copper, gold and bronze along with certain stylised forms of decoration, while at the same time sharing certain cultural and religious traits among the various peoples at the time. Typical patterns used were straight and angular lines, curves and circles and overlapping waves. This so called Beaker Culture was a time of incredible cultural contact along the Atlantic seaboard and western Europe.


Some claim that the spread of this Beaker culture is linked to the prevalence of alcohol consumption and that the use of alcohol may have helperd to spread the attraction of the beakers. Certainly, beer and mead have long been associated with the beaker culture.  Nevertheless, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used for food storage and others for use as funerary urns.

In addition to large numbers of the beakers found in Ireland and the technical innovation of ring-built pottery it seems certain that the makers of these distinctive artefacts were also present and the tall, graceful vases with smoothly curving sides were produced on a potter’s wheel.

Later examples of pottery bowls s and dishes were more elegant with pedestal feet and handles were also in common use

More mundane objects like buckets were made out of wood or leather.

Mirrors of highly polished metals were treasured possessions as were ornaments and jewelery of gold, copper, tin, amber, jadeite but these were the reserve of the higher status groups in society.