Navan Fort

Navan Fort

Navan Fort History

Navan Fort is a hilltop enclosure and ritual site at Navan, County Armagh, Ireland. Navan Fort is also known by its ancient Irish name, Emain Macha. It was constructed around 95 BC, and it is recorded in the Ulster Cycle and other Irish legends as the capital of the northern Irish province of Ulster.

Navan Fort is recognized archaeologically as one of a group of Irish ‘royal sites’, including Tara and Dun Ailinne, whose most unusual architectural feature is an enclosure bank placed outside a ditch, in contrast to the normal defensive arrangement of the bank within a ditch. The site was excavated by Dudley Waterman between 1963 and 1971.

Evidence was recovered of the Neolithic occupation, and one of two earthworks in the enclosure, known as Site A, was used in both the Bronze Age and the early Medieval period.

The second, more substantial mound comprising Site B measured 45 m in diameter, standing 5–6 m high; this was the focus of the most interesting activity on the hill. A Bronze Age settlement under this mound, dating to c. 700 BC, comprised an enclosure containing a circular house and an outer stockade. The house was rebuilt several times on the same spot, and it produced an amount of important Bronze Age and Iron Age material, including such high-status objects as part of a scabbard.

The most extraordinary find was the skull of a Barbary ape, which must have come from Spain or North Africa and might well have been seen as a suitable gift for a king. Around 100 BC the house was dismantled and replaced by an enormous circular structure 40 m across and composed of 5 concentric rings of wooden posts.

At the center, a massive post, shown by dendrochronological analysis to have been felled in 95 or 94 BC and measuring perhaps 12 m high, was the focus of a passageway between the timbers. The structure may have been roofed, but it is unlikely to have been residential in nature.

Not long after its construction the building was filled in with stone, the protruding timbers destroyed by fire, and the whole mound covered with several meters of earth and turves. This action appears to have been the deliberate ending of a ritual site rather than the result of the attack.

The immediate surroundings of the site are strongly associated with power and ritual; they include the ritual pool at King’s Stables and four decorated trumpets found below a hill at Loughnashade. The great earthwork known as the Dorsey, 27 km south of Navan Fort, was constructed at the same time as the central post and may mark the territorial boundary of Ulster.

Navan Fort Location

Navan Centre and Fort Address: 81 Killylea Rd, Armagh, County Armagh BT60 4LD, United Kingdom. Get help with directions:

Navan Fort Map

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