Hill of Tara, known as Temair in gaeilge, was once the ancient seat
of power in Ireland 142 kings are said to have reigned there
in prehistoric and historic times. In ancient Irish religion and
Temair was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods, and was 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
interpretation of the name Tara says that it means a "place
of great prospect" and indeed on a clear day it is claimed
that features in half the counties of Ireland can be seen
from atop Tara. In the distance to the northwest can be seen
the brilliant white quartz front of Newgrange
and further north lies the Hill
of Slane, where according to legend St.
Patrick lit his Pascal fire prior to his visit to Tara
in 433 AD.
in the 20th century a group of Israelites came to Tara with the
conviction that the Arc of the Covenant was buried in on the famous
hill. They dug the Mound of the Synods in search of the Arc but
found only some Roman coins. Official excavation in the 1950s revealed
circles of post holes, indicating the construction of substantial
buildings here. A new theory suggests Tara was the ancient capital
of the lost kingdom
of Atlantis. The mythical land of Atlantis was Ireland, according
to a new book.
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.
Click here to see a comprehensive
map of the monuments on Tara. Click here for the Tara
Stone of Destiny
on top of the King's Seat (Forradh) of Temair is the most famous
of Tara's monuments - Ireland's ancient coronation stone - the Lia
Fail or "Stone of Destiny", which was brought here according
to mythology by the godlike people, the Tuatha
Dé Danann, as one of their sacred objects. It was said
to roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara.
located just north of the Mound of the Hostages (see
map), it was moved to its current site after the Battle of Tara
during the Irish revolution of 1798 to mark the graves of 400 rebels
who died here. Some say the true Stone of Destiny was formerly the
Pillow of Jacob from the Old Testament. They also claim it was flat
and that it was moved from Tara by King Fergus of Scotland and was
named the Stone of Scone which then became the coronation stone
of British kings at Westminster Cathedral. Many historians accept
that the present granite pillar at Tara is the true Stone of Destiny,
but a number of people have argued that the Stone of Scone is in
fact the real thing. One legend states that it was only one of four
stones positioned at the cardinal directions on Tara - and it is
interesting to note that the Hall of Tara, the ancient political
centre of Ireland, is aligned North-South.
following verse is from the Dindshenchas
story about how Tara got its name:
Crofhind ('twas not amiss), was its name under the Tuatha De Danand,
till there came Tea, never unjust, the wife of Erimon lofty of mien.
Round her house was built a rampart, by Tea daughter of Lugaid;
she was buried beyond the wall without, so that from her is Temair
Seat of the Kings was its name: the kingly line of the Milesians
reigned in it: five names accordingly were given it from the time
when it was Fordruim till it was Temair.
the rest here.
your FREE Tara wallpaper
(pictured above) which contains the verses on left.
The Mound of the
"Mound of the Hostages" is a megalithic 'passage tomb'
and is the oldest monument on the hill of Tara, dating to about
2,500BC. 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.
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.
passage at the Mound of the Hostages is short, and is aligned on
the cross-quarter days of November 8 and February 4, the ancient
of Samhain and Imbolc. Just inside the entrance on the left is a
large decorated orthostat.
picture shows the short passage at the Mound of the Hostages at
Tara. As a solar construct it is not as accurate as other passages,
which are notably longer, but according to Brennan (The Stones
of Time, 1994) the daily changes in the position of a 13-foot
long sunbeam are more than adequate to determine specific dates.
The passage would, without any doubt, also capture the light of
the Full Moon at certain times in the 19-year
cycle, specifically the minor standstill rising position.
the churchyard at Tara there are two standing stones, which are
believed to be ancient remnants of a time when there were
many stone monuments on Tara. The taller of the two stones is thought
to feature a figure of the Celtic fertility god Cernunnos, and is
similar to many of the 'Sheela na Gig' representations found across
Ireland. These stones may date to the Neolithic period, although
are more likely to have their origin in the Bronze Age.
the early histories it was noted that on this section of the hill
there once stood a monument called "The Cross of Adamnan"
commemorating a seventh century saint who called a church synod
at Tara to enact laws that gave greater rights to women.
documents about Tara named many standing stones on this section
of the hill Dall, Dorcha, Maol, Bloc and Bluicna.
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
above photo shows the great 'Banqueting Hall' at the Hill of Tara.
Click here to see great aerial pictures
of the Hill of Tara. Mythical Ireland has also reproduced the ancient
tale about how Tara got its name, from the old collection of placename
stories in the Dindshenchas - click
here to read this tale.
Threat to the Hill
Hill of Tara is under threat from the construction of a new motorway,
the M3, which is currently being built and will disect the tranquil Tara-Skryne valley and pose a threat
to many monuments which will doubtlessly be uncovered during its
construction. Already a unique hengiform site has been revealed at Lismullen, and this has stopped work on the motorway. Read up-to-date news about the whole M3 saga on out "Sites Under Threat" forum.
what the experts said about the M3 here. Support for this expert group has come from a number of sources,
not least the South African born Oscar-winning actress, Charlize
The Discovery Programme, Government Publications 1995.
Ordnance Survey Letters Meath, John O'Donovan, 2001.
The Tara Walk, Michael Slavin, 2000.
The Book of Tara, Michael Slavin, 1996, Wolfhound Press.
Martin Brennan, The
Stones of Time, 1994, Inner Traditions.
The Legend of Tara, Elizabeth Hickey, 1988.
Web pages of interest:
Programme - new information on Tara.
New monument discovered under Hill
Tara information from the Stone