The Hill of Tara is an archaeological complex in County Meath, Ireland. This site has great historical significance, as it is suggested that Tara Ireland was once the seat of the High King of Ireland. Visitors come from far and wide to see Lia Fail, the stone of destiny, at the Hill of Tara. With a number of ancient monuments in the complex, this attraction draws many fans of Irish history. Along with the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange at nearby Bru na Boinne, this historical site is one of the most visited in the Emerald Isle.
If you take a tour of the site, you’ll most likely start off at Fort of the Kings, at the summit of the hill, and then continue on to see a ring fort known as Cormac’s House and the Royal Seat or Forradh. In the middle of the Forradh you will see a famous standing stone, the Lia Fail, thought to be the place where high kings were crowned. There are some interesting myths that give this stone significance. Once story says that if the would-be king successfully completed a series of challenges, the stone would let out a scream that could be heard everywhere across the entire island. For this reason, the stone of destiny is popular with visitors, students, and locals alike.
Another ancient monument at Tara Ireland is the Mound of the Hostages, known as Dumha na nGiall in Irish. This Neolithic passage tomb was constructed around 3400 BC. This archaeological site is built in the same style as the Newgrange passage tomb, but many visitors think it is less impressive as a result of a smaller scale. The Mound of the Hostages is different from Newgrange in that light fills the chamber during the spring and fall equinoxes as opposed to the winter solstice. This mound was used for burials during the early Neolithic age and it is estimated that between 250 and 500 bodies were buried there. The top of the mound is the highest point of the archeological complex and offers sweeping views of the green Irish countryside.
While the Hill of Tara has a great deal of ancient significance, it also has significance to more recent times in history. During the year 1798 there was a rebellion, and the Irish troops formed a camp on the hill. The rebels were defeated by the British troops and 400 men lost their lives in Tara Ireland. To mark this point in history, the Lia Fail, stone of destiny, was moved to mark the graves of these fallen rebels. Unfortunately, this is just one sad story in a long history of Irish rebellion against British rule. Any trip to Ireland is sure to be full of these stories of Irish resilience in the face of terrible odds.
In more recent times, the Hill of Tara has again been the source of controversy. A proposal to build a new motorway just a mile away from the archaeological complex has caused a heated debate in Ireland. Many groups want to preserve this important monument and prevent further development in the surrounding areas. At the same, other groups are very focused on the continued development of infrastructure, especially roads. This debate has once again brought attention to the Hill of Tara. Festivals, concerts, and poetry readings are often held at this sacred spot, especially during the summer. You might pull up in your car and encounter a Pulitzer-prize winning Irish writer attending an event at the Hill of Tara.