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CELTIC-L  February 1994

CELTIC-L February 1994

Subject:

Tara encore

From:

"S.T.Champion" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Thu, 10 Feb 1994 14:19:26 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (55 lines)

Classes over, back again!
 
As I mentioned in my previous note, there have been excavations on the hill,
tho never at the BH as far as we know; these include a disastrous expedition
by a party of British Israelites early this century, who 'excavated' the Rath
of the Synods in a vain search to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant!  They
caused considerable damage to this trivallate ringfort, which was the subject
of later excavations (also unpublished) and which produced evidence of four
structural phases in the defences, which were strengthened by wooden palisades
and surrounded timber house structures.  Imported Roman glass and pottery date
some part of this site to the 1st-3rd centuries AD (though because the work has
not been published it is not clear to which phase or phases this material
belongs).  There is some evidence of burials from this site, though again
without the excavation report it is not clear whether they were contemporary
with the dated Roman material or later intrusions: but they do suggest that
this rath is not a straightforward settlement site, but rather has some ritual
elements.
 
Some excavation on the enclosure bank and ditch of the Royal Enclosure (Rath
na Ri) showed that the ditch was rock-cut and 4m deep, but I know of no
surviving finds from what was, I think, a very small trench.  The fact that the
ditch is internal to the bank rather than external, which would be the case in
most Irish and British defensive hilltop enclosures, suggests that again this
may be a monument of ritual type, similar perhaps to that on another royal
site, Emain Macha (Navan fort), one phase of which dated to 100 BC
(dendrochronological date).
 
Just two more points in this session :-)
1 The names given to these monuments were recorded in the early medieval
period, and there is no way of knowing how far back before that they were used;
in addition, they come to us as the result of the interpretation of difficult
medieval documents by linguistic/historical scholars, rather than in any way
having remained in 'folk consciousness'; they were 'revived' as part of the
'Celtic revival' movement of the 19th century.
2 The top of the hill, both within, around and in some cases over the
monuments, was clearly ploughed during late medieval or post-medieval times -
 to judge by the width of the 'rig', probably in the 17th century or perhaps
a bit later.  Not only will this have affected the surviving archaeology, it
also says interesting things about the continuity of reverence for the place.
Presumably under English landlords the importance of the site for the Irish was
suppressed in favour of increased productivity for the intruders.
 
I'll tell you about the Lia Fail and the sheela-na-gig in the churchyard in my
next post if you're interested - this post is far too long, sorry!  Slainte,
Sara
 
           *******************************************************
           *  Sara Champion M.A., D. Phil   *  I have spread     *
           *  Department of Archaeology     *  my dreams under   *
           *  University of Southampton     *  your feet;        *
           *  Southampton SO9 5NH, U.K.     *  Tread softly,     *
           *  email: [log in to unmask]  *  because you tread *
           *  Tel: 0703 557031              *  on my dreams.     *
           *******************************************************

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