Re David McFadden's comment, archaeologists have been attempting for many years
to understand the nature of the monuments on the Hill of Tara, and the
suggestion that the 'Banqueting Hall' might be a cursus is an old one, based
on the possible association with the passage tomb, the 'Mound of the Hostages'
on which it appears to be aligned. What the new survey work has shown is that
the monument in its present form is only part, the southern end, of a longer
monument which has been ploughed out in the adjoining field to the north,
making it even more like a cursus and less like a hall structure. Cursus
monuments are intimately related to neolithic ritual monuments, and possibly
represent ceremonial ways around a ritual landscape; the linear monument at
Tara might well be a similar type of site from a later date, ie a ceremonial
way into the complex dating to the period when Tara was in use as a royal site
at the beginning of the first millennium AD. The date would need to be
established by excavation: excavation work at Tara was originally planned under
the Discovery Programme, but has currently not been initiated.
Incidentally, the neolithic passage tomb was later reused in the Bronze Age,
in the middle of the second millennium BC, for further burials.
I am being kicked off the machine here in favour of a postgrad, so I will
continue this saga this afternoon! Slainte, Sara.