‘Tlachta Be The Day’: Excavations at Tlachta, Co. Meath

Aerial View: Tlachta/Hill of Ward, Co. Meath (Bing Maps)

Here’s one to watch: today marks the beginning of a three week archaeological exploration of the late prehistoric multivallate enclosure site at Tlachta/Hill of Ward, Athboy, Co. Meath. The project is led by Dr. Steve Davis of UCD School of Archaeology and Cathy Moore (in addition to a cast of ‘thousands’) and is funded by the Royal Irish Academy, Meath Co. Council, the OPW and the Heritage Council. Steve has been conducting geophysical and computer aerial surveys of the site in recent years and the current project is the result of some very exciting and tantalizing indications arising from same.

Tlachta, considered to be an extremely high status ceremonial enclosure site, is mysterious in terms of its original function and purpose. It loomed large in the medieval political scene and plays a recurring role in myth, legend and dindsenchas (Place Name Lore) – including a dubious, but nevertheless intriguing association with ‘druids’ and Halloween (Samhain). These archaeological investigations are an historic first for the site and hold the prospect of finally answering some of the many questions we have concerning its origin, activity and probable augmentation over time.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to perhaps hearing something about early phase dating, potential burial evidence and/or indications of formalized repeated burning in the subsoil. In early medieval Ireland the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist was very much obsessed over because of fertile Christian imaginations and deep interest in a prophesy that involved an apocalyptic purging of the Irish by fire. I have always suspected that the depictions/occurrence of both in later medieval Tlachta lore is not coincidental. (Halloween me arse!)

For more information, read an excellent introduction to the site and the project by Neil Jackman.

For all the latest news and pictures you should follow the Excavations at Tlachtga Facebook Page, which also contains stunning background pictures, maps, LiDAR and geophysical images of the site which really illustrate the amount of work that has gone into the project before getting to this exploratory stage. UCD Archaeological Society will also be posting weekly round ups.

If you’re on twitter, I suggest following @JackmanNeil and for updates and I believe there may be further livetweets under the hashtag .

—————————Update Oct 2014————————

Exciting C14 dates ahead…

—————Update November 2015————-

What was that I said about early phase dating?

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