Hill of Tara
[Wednesday - 11/13/02] The Hill of Tara, known as Temair in gaeic, 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 mythology, 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 powerful site.
One 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.
Early in the 20th century, a group of Isrealites 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 1950's revealed circles of post holes, indicating the construction of substantial buildings here.
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. Only two monuments were excavated - The Mound of the Hostages in the 1950's, and the Rath of the Synods at the turn of the 19th-20th Centuries.
Sitting on top of the King's Seat (Forradh) of Tara is the most famous of all 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.
Formerly located just north of the Mound of the Hostages, 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.
Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008|
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