Hill of Tara – Seat of the ancient Kings of Ireland
One of the most revered and ancient historical sites in Ireland is the Hill of Tara in County Meath, the ancient Irish seat of the High Kings. It is a huge site that is continually being investigated archaeologically. Tara encompassed the Rath of the Synods, The Mound of the Hostages and the Stone of Destiny or the Lia Fáil. This is one of the top attractions in Ireland.
The 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 ancient Irish mythology, Temair was a sacred place for the gods and was the entrance to the otherworld. Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to convert the pagans to Christianity.
There is a church and graveyard on the hill. Tara forms part of a larger ancient landscape and Tara itself is a protected national monument under the care of the Office of Public Works.
The site of Tara, it has been discovered, has revealed a huge wooden henge, said to be even bigger than Stonehenge and would quite possibly be the size of a football stadium which means it would have been seen on the skyline for many miles around.
It is haunting being surrounded by this landscape and these megaliths, something this old full of legends and myths reminds us of why we visit Ireland.
Lia Fail – the Stone of Destiny
According to Mythical Ireland the Lia Fail or “Stone of Destiny” was brought here by, the Tuatha Dé Danann, as one of their sacred objects. It was said to roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara.
Hill of Tara Map
Mound of Hostages
The “Mound of the Hostages” is a megalithic ‘passage tomb’ like Newgrange and is the oldest monument on the hill, and one of Ireland’s most famous historical sites dating to around 2,500BC. The name “Mound of the Hostages” comes from the custom of Kings keeping important people or family members from other royal families as hostages to ensure that the families followed the King’s rule. 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.
St. Patrick’s Church
In the churchyard at Tara, there are two standing stones, which are believed to be quite ancient. Saint Patrick’s, is on the eastern side of the hilltop. The “Rath of the Synods” was partly destroyed by the building of its churchyard. The church you see today was built in 1822–23 on the site of an earlier one.
The earliest evidence of a church at Tara is a charter dating from the 1190s. In 1212, this church was “among the possessions confirmed to the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John. A 1791 illustration shows the church building internally divided into a nave and chancel, with a bell tower over the western end. A stump of wall marks the site of the old church today, but some of its stonework was re-used in the current church. The building is now used as a visitor centre operated by the Office of Public Works.
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 Gigs found across Ireland.
Massive Temple found under Hill of Tara
Directly beneath the Hill of Tara a massive temple was discovered by archaeologists. Huge posts numbering around 300 surrounded the temple. What was eventually discovered was on the crown of the hill of Tara there was a substantial oval-shaped monument measuring nearly 200 metres wide. It is believed that the monument dates from 2500 to 2300BC. Located just below the ground surface there are no existing plans to dig it out.
How to get to the Hill of Tara Ireland
If you have rented a car and are driving from Dublin take the R147 to the Boyne Valley. At junction 7, take the R147 exit to Skryne/Johnstown. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto R147. Take a right at the sign for the Hill of Tara. Continue up the hill until you reach your destination on the left.
Cost of visiting Hill of Tara
The cost of entry to the Hill of Tara is Adult: €5.00 and children €3.00. There is a parking lot here and a small cafe with facilities and a gift shop.
The Tara Brooch
Contrary to popular belief the Tara Brooch was not found at the Hill of Tara but on a beach near Bettystown not far from Drogheda in 1850. It was called the Tara Brooch by a jeweller who bought it and used the name as a marketing tool for the copies they made for tourists.
You can of course buy Tara replica brooches all over Ireland. I love a brooch or a pin whatever you want to call it and I do love this Tara Brooch it’s silver-plated and it contains amber and glass beads.
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