Located in County Meath near Newgrange, the Hill of Tara is a stretch of grassy landscape that has played a central role in the history, legend, and folklore of Ireland. , the Hill of Tara is the home to important earthworks from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman times and the rule of the Celtic kings . The name comes from Irish: Teamhair na Rí, “Hill of the King” or “Place of Assembly” . The history of Tara dates back to 2000 BC making it one of the most magical places in Ireland, if not the whole of Europe.
Hill of Tara Short History
The Hill of Tara has been a sacred site since prehistoric times, with the earliest known monument (the Mound of the Hostages) built between 2500 and 2100 BC. In the Iron Age, roughly spanning the 1st through 5th centuries AD, the Hill of Tara was the ceremonial center of the Celtic high kings of Ireland. Roman artifacts dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries have been found on the site and it is said that St. Patrick visited Tara in the 430s AD after lighting his “Paschal fire” on the nearby Hill of Slane. The kings appear to have abandoned the site in the 6th century.
In more recent history, Tara has been the site of important political events, indicating its continuing significance for the Irish people. In 1798, rebels of the Irish revolution fought British troops on the Hill of Tara, and in 1843, a peaceful demonstration of some 750,000 people protested against Ireland’s union with Britain.
Today, the Hill of Tara is an important archaeological site and a major center of Irish spiritual and political heritage. Most of it remains unexplored by archaeologists, so there is still much to learn. In recent years, the latest technology of photography has been used to discover underlying formations without disturbing the site.
The Hill of Tara has been frequently in the latest news due to the construction of a controversial highway (M3) next to the site.
What to Visit
The Banqueting Hall was the ceremonial entrance to the Hill of Tara and aligned to that is the mound of the hostages .This mound is the oldest section of Tara and is aligned with the sunset during the ancient Celtic festivals of Samhain and Imbolc. The Rath of the Synods sits between the mound of the hostages and the Banqueting Hall and after a number of excavations many Roman artefacts had been found dating between the 1st & 3rd centuries.
Other monuments include the Fort of the Kings, a circular Iron Age hill fort. Cormac’s House (Teach Chormaic) and the Royal Seat (Forradh) which are two ring forts within that are linked. A standing stone is located in the middle of the Royal seat and is known as the Stone of Destiny (Lia Fáil), this is where the High Kings of Ireland would have been crowned, with the most famous being Cormac Mac Airt. Legend says that before a King of Ireland would be crowned he would have to endure a number of challenges and touch the Stone of Destiny after completion. If he was successful and was the chosen King and the stone would scream three times which could be heard all over Ireland. The Fort of King Laoghaire is located south from the Royal enclosure and this is where the king of Ireland would have been buried. It is believed he was buried in an upright position to see any enemies or grave robbers coming.
There are over 30 monuments around the Hill of Tara with many more no longer visible, this was a very special place for the Celts who settled in Ireland. Standing on the hill not far from Tara are other special places such as Newgrange passage Tomb and the Hill of Slane can also be seen giving a great sense of history of the Irish and Celtic Culture.
[ Sources : www.yourirish.com , www.sacred-destinations.com ]