in ancient times
Although difficult to make out, this mound is probably very ancient.
visitors and pilgrims who come to the Hill of Slane do so because
of its Christian significance. Few visitors realise that this place
was hugely significant long before St. Patrick ever set foot in
Ireland. A mound on the western end of the peak, which lies hidden
from the view of visitors by lots of trees, has a very ancient significance,
linked to Newgrange by mythology.
The Motte, as it is now called, was in Norman times the site of
a castle which was built by Richard Fleming in the 1170s. But it
is probably the same mound under which was buried the Fir Bolg King,
Sláine, who gives
his name to the area. The ancient Dindshenchas says the following
king of the Fir Bolg, and their judge, by him was its wood cleared
from the Brugh. Afterwards, he died at Druim Fuar, which is called
Dumha Sláine, and was buried there: and from him the hill is named
Sláine. Hence it was said: Here died Sláine, lord of troops: over
him the mighty mound is reared: so the name of Sláine was given
to the hill, where he met his death in that chief abode.
tenth-century poem, ascribed to Caoílte Mac Ronáin, says: 'Sláine
of the Fir-Bolgs of fame t'was he by whom Tara was first raised.'
And so, it seems, Sláine was indeed a very important character.
view of the mound on the Hill of Slane (with visitors!).
evidence of ancient activity on Slane Hill, the motte does not stand
alone. There are other earthwork features in the ground around the
hilltop. Most notable of these is a ring-barrow, located very close
to the motte. Ring-barrows such as this can range in date from the
Late Neolithic (c3000-2500BC) to the Early Iron Age (c500BC). There
are barrows like this on another ancient hill nearby called Sliabh
Breagh, which is visible from Slane.
ring-barrow on the Hill of Slane, more evidence of ancient
activity here. There is a cemetery of six barrows on the
nearby Sliabh Breagh.
ARCANE, ANCIENT, ASTRONOMICAL
Hill of Slane features strongly in a detailed and lengthy passage
of the 'Táin Bó Cualgne' called 'The Array of the Host'. This fascinating
chapter of the famous epic story places the Hill of Slane in a very
mystical and cosmic setting, and the story itself has all the elements
of a fantastic story, arcane, ancient and astronomical. Here are
selected quotes from the story:
. . . MacRoth surveyed the plain and he saw something: a heavy,
grey mist that filled the space between the heavens and earth.
It seemed to him that the hills were islands in lakes that he
saw rising up out of the sloping valleys of mist. It seemed to
him they were wide-yawning caverns that he saw there leading into
that mist. It seemed to him it was all-white, flaxy sheets of
linen, or sifted snow a-falling that he was there through a rift
in the mist. It seemed to him it was a flight of many, varied,
wonderful, numerous birds, or the constant sparkling of shining
stars on a bright, clear night of hoar-frost, or sparks of red-flaming
fire. . .''
'' MacRoth went his way till he took his station in Slane of Meath,
awaiting the men of Ulster. The Ulstermen were busied in marching
to that hill from gloaming of early morn till sunset hour in the
evening. In such manner the earth was never left naked under them
during all that time, every division of them under its king, and
every band under its leader, and every king and every leader and
every lord with the number of his force and his muster, his gathering
and his levy apart. Howbeit, by sunset hour in the evening all
the men of Ulster had taken position on that height in Slane of
ART OF ALIGNMENT
interesting feature of the ancient mound of Slane is the fact that
it forms a very interesting alignment with some other ancient sites.
Almost directly east of the Slane Motte, in nearby Drogheda,
is another 'Norman' motte with significant prehistoric ties, known
today as Millmount. This site is said to be the burial place of
Amergin, the first
bard of Ireland and chief of the Milesians who was famed for saying:
''What land is better than this island of the setting sun; who but
I can tell the ages of the moon.''
ancient mound of Millmount, complete with its more recent
martello tower, and all signs of modern urban development.
This is the mythical burial place of Amergin, and the wife
of the Gobán Saor.
line drawn on an ordnance survey map from Millmount through the
Slane Motte can be traced with reasonable accuracy as far west as
west which contains a number of neolithic sites. If this supposed
alignment seems imaginative, it gains credence when one considers
that from Millmount, Winter Solstice sunset occurs exactly in the
direction of the Hill of Tara and
another ancient mound, the Mound of the Hostages. Alignments such
as these are repeated throughout the ancient sites of Ireland. This alignment continues through the town of Kells, passing near the town of Longford, right through the Cruachan Ai complex in Roscommon and onwards as far as Croagh Patrick, the place from where Patrick was said to have banished the snakes from Ireland. See more about this amazing alignment, which we call the "Equinox Journey" of Saint Patrick.
surprising revelation made by us at the Slane mound was the fact
that the Rockabill islands, although lying some 38km away in the
Irish Sea, are visible from the top of the mound. What's even more
interesting is the fact that the islands are only visible through
a gap formed by dipping hills. Rockabill is very significant to
the Baltray solstice
alignment, and the islands were also mentioned in ancient mythology.