Discover the mythical Hill of Tara

Posted by Neil Hand on the 29th of January 2016 at 16:18:24

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Ireland is without doubt a very mystical island with many ancient legends and a colourful history. One of the probably most mythical places is the Hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, only 40 minutes north of Dublin.

The Hill of Tara, also known as Temair in Gaelic, was once the seat of power in Ireland: 142 kings have reigned here in the past. In ancient Irish religion and mythology the Hill of Tara was the sacred home of the gods and the entrance to the otherworld. Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to confront the ancient religion of the pagans at its most powerful site.

Atlantis?! A rather new theory suggests Tara was the ancient capital of the lost kingdom of Atlantis. Some claim that the mythical land of Atlantis was Ireland...

A bit of Archaeology There are a large number of monuments and earthen structures on the Hill of Tara. The earliest settlement at the site was in the Neolithic, and the Mound of the Hostages was constructed in or around 2500BC. There are over thirty monuments which are visible, and probably as many again which have no visible remains on the surface but which have been detected using special non-intrusive archaeological techniques and aerial photography. A huge temple measuring 170 metres and made of over 300 wooden posts, was discovered recently at Tara. Only two monuments at Tara have been excavated - The Mound of the Hostages in the 1950s, and the Rath of the Synods at the turn of the 19th-20th Centuries.

So, what can you see?

The Stone of Destiny:

The Stone of Destiny is one of Ireland's most famous monuments. It sits on top of the King's Seat. It is Ireland's ancient coronation stone and was brought to the Hill of Tara by the "Godlike People" (Tuatha Dé Danann") as one of their sacred objects. When the stone was touched by the rightful king of Tara, it apparently roared.(That's so spooky!)

The Mound of the Hostages:

The Mound of the Hostages dates back to 2,500BC and is therefore the oldest monument on the Hill of Tara. It is actually a megalithic passage tomb like e.g. Newgrange which is also nearby.The name "Mound of the Hostages" derives from the custom of overkings like those at Tara retaining important personages from subject kingdoms to ensure their submission. One of the legendary kings of Tara was named Niall of the Nine Hostages in recognition of the fact that he held hostages from all the provinces of Ireland and from Britain.

Standing Stones:

In the churchyard at Tara there are 2 standing stones which are believed to be ancient (either Neolithic period or Bronze Age). The taller stone shows a figure of the Celtic fertility god.The Standing Stones of Tara also recall the legend that candidates for the High Kingship of Tara had to drive their chariots toward two sacred stones standing closely together. They remained closed for the non-accepted candidate and opened a path only for the rightful king.

 

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