The Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara is a prehistoric burial mound and also the place where Irish high kings were said to be coronated and buried upon death.

hill of tara ireland

The hill of Tara is a very important religious and civic place in pagan Ireland. It originally began as a communal passage tomb (The so called mound of the hostages) which was aligned so that the sunrise of imbolc could shine through the passageway of the tomb, along with this various woodhenges were erected around and on the hill and other burial mounds were created.

The Hill of Tara is located in the Boyne Valley in County Meath, which is known for its rich history and ancient monuments. The site is situated on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside, and it was strategically placed in a location that allowed for easy communication and trade with other parts of Ireland.

The Hill of Tara has been a site of religious, cultural, and political significance for over 5,000 years, and it continues to be a popular destination for tourists and scholars interested in Irish history and culture.

The hill of Tara’s legacy stretches back to a time of myths, legends, and has got profound political and spiritual significance. The earliest known reference to the Hill of Tara dates back to the Neolithic period, around 4000 BCE. At this time, the site was likely used as a religious center and was associated with the worship of the sun and the moon. The ancient inhabitants of the area likely constructed a large circular enclosure on the hilltop, which was used for ritual purposes and may have been used for astronomical observations.

To the recorded Gaelic pagans who later came to inhabit the region, it is known that they made the hill the centre of the religious and governmental institution, the high king of Ireland would be ritually coronated by drinking ale and ritualling marrying the goddess Medbh. There are five roads which are said to lead directly to Ireland from all of its provinces, these roads being: Slighe Assail which went west, Slighe Miduachra which went throughout country meath, Slighe Cualann which went to Dublin, Slighe Dala which went to Ossory and Slighe Mor which went towards Galway.

Mythological Origins and Legendary Importance

Tara’s origin is interwoven with Irish mythology, adding an air of mystery and enchantment to its legacy. According to legend, Tara was the dwelling place of the Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of divine beings associated with ancient Irish gods and goddesses. The site was believed to be a focal point for spiritual and magical activities, making it a sacred center in ancient Ireland.

Another important structure on the Hill of Tara is the Stone of Destiny, also known as the Lia Fáil. The stone is a large standing stone that is said to have been used for the coronation of the High Kings of Ireland. According to legend, the stone would roar three times when the rightful king touched it, indicating that he was the chosen ruler of Ireland.

Archaeological Discoveries at the hill of Tara

The historical significance of the Hill of Tara is firmly grounded in its rich archaeological discoveries. Excavations on the site have unearthed a treasure trove of artifacts dating back over several millennia, shedding light on Ireland’s early history and cultural practices.

The Hill of Tara contains a number of other structures and features that are associated with Irish mythology and history. These include a number of burial mounds, ancient roads, and defensive ditches and embankments. The site is also associated with a number of legendary figures, including the goddess Danu and the legendary High Kings of Ireland.

Literary References

Tara’s legacy also finds its place in numerous literary works, both ancient and modern. One of the most notable mentions of Tara can be found in the “Book of Invasions,” a collection of Irish mythology and history that chronicles the various waves of settlers and invasions that shaped the island’s early past. The hill is described as a center of power and a place of assembly for the ancient Irish tribes.

In more recent times, Tara has inspired poets, writers, and scholars to explore its mystical allure. Notable figures like W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory drew inspiration from Tara in their literary works, further cementing its place in Ireland’s cultural imagination.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Hill of Tara is an important cultural and historical site in Ireland, with a rich and varied history that spans thousands of years. The site’s association with Irish mythology, political power, and ancient religion make it a unique and fascinating destination for tourists and scholars alike. The Hill of Tara is a testament to the enduring legacy of Ireland’s ancient past, and it remains a symbol of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

  • References

    Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mound_of_the_Hostages,_Hill_of_Tara_2018-07-24.jpg

    Raftery, B. (2005). Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age. Thames & Hudson.

    Ó hÓgáin, D. (2006). The Sacred Isle: Belief and Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland. Boydell Press.

    Harbison, P. (1992). Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. Gill & Macmillan.

    MacKillop, J. (1998). Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford University Press.

    Yeats, W. B. (2012). The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore. Dover Publications.

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