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Duma na nGiall: Tara The Mound of the Hostages

Duma na nGiall: Tara The Mound of the Hostages

Muiris O'Sullivan

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This book gives an indepth report on the archaeological excavations at the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland. A comprehensive text accompanied with photographs and illustrations.

This is the first in a series of Tara related volumes from the UCD School of Archaeology, followed by the two excavation monographs, Tara - from the Past to the Future and The Rath of the Synods, Tara Co Meath

This is a report on the archaeological excavations at the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland.

The excavations were directed initially by Seán P. Ó Ríordáin, who spent two summers at the site (1955 and 1956), and were completed in a third season during the summer of 1959 by Ruaidhrí de Valera, Ó Ríordáin's successor as Professor of Archaeology in University College Dublin. This report incorporates their findings, supported by post-excavation analysis. The earliest features recorded at the site date from about the mid-fourth millennium (cal.) BC and include the remains of individual fires, spreads of charcoal and a ditch running partially underneath the cairn.

The mound itself is a mantle of soil, approximately 1m deep, covering the cairn which encloses a passage tomb. The tomb consists of three successive compartments separated by low sill stones, the roof stones surviving over the two inner compartments. Noteworthy features of the tomb include the occurrence of megalithic art on two of the orthostats, the presence of three cist-like structures against the outer faces of the orthostats, and most remarkably the collection of burnt and unburnt human bone representing hundreds of individuals distributed throughout the tomb and cists, accompanied by a rich array of artefacts, some of which are decorated. Surrounding the cairn and sometimes located beneath the earthen mantle, the excavators recorded a ring of seventeen bone deposits that, like the earliest dated burials in the tomb, have produced radiocarbon determinations focusing in the period 3350–3100 (cal.) BC.

A ring of fire pits coinciding spatially with the ring of burials has been radiocarbon dated to more than a millennium later. Within the tomb the Neolithic deposits were disturbed as successive Early Bronze Age burials were incorporated, and in due course the burial activity spread out into the overlying mound so that approximately nineteen separate burials occurred in the earthen mantle, some of them accompanied by richly decorated pottery and other artefacts. Traces of linear palisades located close to the mound appear to date from about 2500 (cal.) BC.

Later features include a Late Bronze Age ring-ditch located beside the mound, a small number of Iron Age finds and some post-medieval elements.

Additional Information

Author Muiris O'Sullivan
Publisher Wordwell
Publication date 2 Dec 2005
Format Hardback
ISBN/EAN 9781869857936

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