In this month's Mythical Ireland podcast, I discuss recent archaeological discoveries in Ireland from drought imagery in Google Earth and the continued closure of Cairn T at Loughcrew due to structural concerns.
The year 2018 will live long in the memory of archaeologists, historians and anyone interested in ancient Ireland. The drought of that summer, which was problematic for so many farmers, proved a boon to archaeologists as dozens of monuments became visible as cropmarks in parched tillage fields.
The discovery of a late Neolithic henge at Newgrange by Ken Williams and I on 10th July 2018 made headlines around the world. Following that, a National Monuments Service aerial survey revealed a very complex monumental landscape - features seen in our drone imagery and additional archaeological remnants picked up by the NMS photographers.
Now, in spring 2019, further discoveries are being made. Google Earth recently updated its imagery for eastern Ireland, and the new imagery dates from the time of the drought. Some images were taken on 24th June, some on 28th June and some on 14th July. A raft of previously unknown archaeology has been discovered. At the time of making the podcast, I had discovered around 50 or so. As I write this blog, my current total is 102 monuments or archaeological features, in eight counties: Louth, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny. A majority are located in Meath and Kildare, good tillage land!
The new features/monuments have been reported to the National Monuments Service and as I'm writing this at least 30 of them have already been added to their database and are viewable on the Historic Environment Viewer.
The second part of the blog is dedicated to discussion of the prolonged closure of Cairn T at Loughcrew. The cairn was closed to the public in October 2018 for structural investigation and has remained closed ever since. It is my understanding that structural issues have been found, the restoration of which might be a complex, costly and time-consuming affair. Since recording the podcast, I have found out that the cairn will NOT be opened for public access on the mornings around Vernal Equinox in March, although OPW guides will be present at the site.
You can listen to the podcast through YouTube (embedded further up the page) or below on MixCloud:
Enter the ‘Ancient Sites’ section of this blog for a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the megalithic and sacred sites of Ireland. Find out all about the Stone Age and prehistoric ruins and learn more about the possible functions and alignments of these sites. Visit the great temples of Brú na Bóinne, the Hill of Tara, the ancient cairns of Loughcrew among many others.
Explore the ancient myths, legends and folklore of Ireland and their meaning. Read the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, or the place-name myths in the Dindshenchas. Learn about how the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians came to Ireland and how the early texts describe various invasions of prehistoric Éire. Hear about Fionn and the Fianna, and discover how some myths might contain information about astronomy and the stars.
There is no doubt that the ancient megalith builders had a substantial knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars through the heavens. Learn more about just how complex and impressive this knowledge was. There is evidence that the people of the Neolithic knew about the 19-year Metonic cycle of the moon, as well as being able to predict eclipses.