Yet another find over the past few days of Neolitihic underground chambers has been made at Tara and which have been kept from public knowledge by the Government and the road contractors. For more details see the brief report below... continues...
Two researchers have claimed that a huge, human-like depiction present in the road system straddling Meath and Louth could be the world's largest ground-based representation of the constellation of Orion... continues...
Herity lists (the remains of ) 4 passage tombs in this area/townland, Me 67, Me 68 (the primary site here), Me 69 & Me 70 in his national numbering system. Me 67 is Gormanstown TD 1 and is supposedly the tomb on the clifftop above the beach, the site called Gormanston Beach here in the County Meath section. To further complicate and confuse things, he also uses 2 alternative names: Knockingen or Knocknagen for Me 67/Gormanstown TD 1. The use of TD 1, TD 2 etc. is a device he uses where there are groups of passage tombs in a given county, so-called passage grave cemeteries. Gormanstown is called Gormanston here and in the Archaeological Inventory of County Meath.
His entries in the Inventory section of the book are worth reproducing in full.
GORMANSTOWN TD 1 Knockingen or Knocknagen
A memorandum from G.A. Hamilton giving details of this tomb was read at the Royal Irish Academy in 1846. The mound was on the edge of the sea-cliff near Knockingen or Knocknagen on the north side of the mouth of the Delvin river. Part of the mound had already been washed away by the sea and on the beach below were several immense stones apparently fallen from above. Hamilton noted 'a considerable number of similar stones', on the beach 100m to seaward.
Excavations were carried out with the consent of Lord Gormanston, the landlord. The mound was made up of small round stones or shingle from the shore. A circle of large stones similar to those lying on the shore were found buried in the sand and shingle at some distance from the centre of the mound. 'Within this outer circle of stones we found, on what appeared to have been a floor of beaten clay, a large quantity of burnt human bones, apparently of persons of different ages: we found amongst them the bones of very young children. In the centre of the circle was a chamber constructed of immense flags, some of them more than 1.8m in height; and within this a rude stone basin, or rather a large stone of sandstone grit, with a cavity or hollow formed in it.' This basin bore 'evident marks of fire', and had a quantity of charcoal and burnt bones surrounding it. 'Amongst these bones we found some beads, made of polished stone, in shape conical, with a hole through each, near the apex of the cone.'
The mound described here appears to be the one of which the last remnants are now falling over the cliff. Its stones were used in the construction of the railway. It is marked as a complete tumulus in the 1837 edition of the OS Six-Inch map. The 'outer circle of stones' surrounding a floor of beaten clay at Knockingen may be an inner kerb like those noted at Carrowkeel and Carrowmore. The cremated remains found inside this circle but outside the chamber are in an unusual position, though the burials outside the chamber walls at Tara may be a parallel. The 'beads' described appear to be passage grave pendants. D'Alton mentions that many of the stones of the tomb were used in the building of the railway nearby.
Hamilton 1846, 251; D'Alton 1884, vol. I, cxxvii.
Gormanstown Td. 2
A much larger mound, 25m in diameter, the centre of which has been dug away revealing what appear to be a number of chamber-stones, stands 150m west of Tomb I on a rise in the ground near the main road.
Gormanstown Td. 3
About 100m due east of Tomb I, a jumble of boulders about 15m across can be seen on the beach at low water. There are no other such concentrations of large stones on the beach except at No. 4, described below. It can be suggested, as Hamilton does, that these are the remains of a passage grave, the kerb and other large stones of which have tumbled on to the beach in the course of erosion. The lack of any recognisable plan suggests they rolled down at intervals from a significant height.
Gormanstown Td. 4
Due north of Tomb 3, also on the beach, a circle of boulders 15m across and a number of others inside which can be seen at low water give a rough impression of the kerb and chamber of a passage grave. Their position suggets that they did not fall from a great height.
Irish Passage Graves – Neolithic tomb-builders in Ireland and Britain 2500 B.C.
Irish University Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1974 Michael Herity
Tlachtga is an important site in many early Irish sources, incorporating several strands of Irish mythology. The site is reputedly named after a druidess, the daughter of the quasi-mythical sun-god figure Mog Ruith, named in another tale as the executioner of John the Baptist.
According to Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland, Tlachtga was one of four great fortresses (along with Tara, Teltown and Uisneach) built by the high king Tuathal Techmar following the creatio of the kingdom of Mide in the early decades of the first millennium AD. Each of these fortresses was constructed from part of an existing kingdom: Uisneach from Connacht, Tlachtga from Munster, Tara from Leinster and Teltown from Ulster.
Tlachtaga was strongly associated with the festival of Samhain. It was reputed to be the site of the 'Fire of Tlachtga' which was used to summon 'the priests, the augurs and druids of Ireland' to assemble on Samhain eve in order to 'consume the sacrifices that were offered to their pagan gods'. It was decreed that all fires within the kingdom on that night were to be kindled from the Fire of Tlachtga, under penalty of fine. In recent times the tradition of a Samhain gathering on the hill has been revived, and fire once again burns on Tlachtga on Samhain eve.
In 1167 Tlachtga was the site of the last of the reform synods to be held under Irish kingship. Presided over by Ruiadri Ua Conchobair, the last high king of Ireland, 13,000 horsemen are said to have attended, along with provincial kings and key ecclesiastical figures of the day, including Gelasius of Armagh, St Laurence O'Toole of Dublin and Cadhla of Tuam. Five years later, in 1172, Tigeman Mor Ua Ruairc, king of Breifne for over 40 years, was slain on the hill 'by treachery' following failed negotiations with Hugh de Lacy regarding the succession of Meath to the Anglo-Normans. Later still, both Owen Roe O'Neill (1643) and Cromwell (1649) are reputed to have encamped on the Hill, accounting for some of the disturbance evident at the site today.
From 'Heritage Guide no. 63: The Hill of Ward: A Samhain site in County Meath.' (Archaeology Ireland, December 2013).
The Hill of Slane overlooks a key fording point of the River Boyne, with clear views of the Hill of Tara and Skryne to the south. Little is known of the hill's prehistory, although geological work suggests that some stone for the Bru na Boinne tombs came from here.
A large enclosed mound hidden in the wood on the hill's western edge is classified as an Anglo-Norman motte. The nature of its enclosure and its association with a possible ring-barrow suggest that it originated as a prehistoric monument. Herity has compared it to other large mounds, such as that at Rathcroghan, and has stressed its possible ritual significance.
The hill was first associated with a life of St Patrick written by the seventh-century hagiographer Muirchu, who described the saint's journey from the mouth of the River Boyne and the lighting of the paschal fire at Fertae Fer Feic ('grave-mound of the men of Feic'). A central figure in the story is Erc, first bishop of Slane, who was linked with an area containing Fertae Fer Feic and Slane.
Cathy Swift has shown that the antiquarian James Ware linked Fertae Fer Feic with the hilltop, although souces suggest that this place may have been elsewhere along the Boyne Valley. Swift stresses, however, that early medieval mounds, churches and forts were often connected with legal centres. The Hill of Slane contains both an enclosed mound and an important church site documented as an important legal centre from the eighth century AD, with links to French monastic sites. Therefore, while Slane is unlikely to have been the site of the legendary paschal fire, it has important links to the Patrician story.
From Matthew Seaver and Conor Brady's "Heritage Guide No. 55: Hill of Slane" (Archaeology Ireland, December 2011).