Hill of Tara is a hilltop archaeological site that dates from the Iron Age, it is located close to the River Boyne in County Meath. It is also known as the the seat of the High King of Ireland, as this was the Coronation place of Irelands pre-Christian kings. It is one of the most famous sites in Ireland and is situated in the centre of the Boyne Valley, amongst some of the most beautiful rural landscapes in Ireland.
This 100 acre site has a number of ancient monuments, and earthen structures, it is one of the biggest and best complexes of Celtic monuments in all of Europe. The are more than thirty monuments that are visible and are all close to each other. The most important monument here is the coronation stone called The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny, it has been situated here through the ages. It was at this stone that the most powerful Kings held their inaugural feasts and were accepted by Earth Mother Goddess Maeve, according to written text it was stated that the King must drink ale and symbolically marry the the goddess Maeve, in order to qualify for high kinship. When it is referred to as the seat of the High King of Ireland this was not a hereditary Kingship, the kings either won it in battle or were chosen for it. It is reported that during prehistory and historic times 142 Kings reigned in the name of Tara.
In ancient Irish mythology and religion it was regarded by worshippers to be a dwelling place of the gods and an entrance to the world of eternal joy and plenty where no mortal ever grew old.
When accessing the Hill of Tara site through the entrance gate the first structure visitors come to is a statue of St Patrick, next along is the church and churchyard, these date from 1822. There were two earlier churches here, the earliest one dating to a the 13th century. The earliest grave stones here date back to the the 17th century. At the top of the stairs in the churchyard there are two stones that are remaining from a time when there would have been lots more stone monuments here in Tara. The taller of these two stones is understood to contain a figure of the celtic fertility god Cernunnos. There is also a passage tomb here.
The church contains an interpretive centre with a sound and picture presentation on Tara’s history that plays frequently throughout the hour during the tourist season. There are also guided tours of the site available on request, they last about 35-40 minutes.
Although it is not a very tall hill, standing at only 500 feet, it still dominates the surrounding countryside. From the summit visitors have wonderful views of the countryside especially on a clear day.
The Hill of Tara has a sense of magic and mystery associated with it, it does not take much to be transported back in time to a much earlier time in history. It certainly has an ethereal feel about it.
Access to the site is free and open all year round. A number of events are also held here throughout the year. Much of this attraction is outdoors so make sure to dress appropriately.