Two archaeologists at an excavation trench, with trees and a rainbow in the background

New Faughan Hill Publication

We’re happy to announce that an important paper by Ger Dowling & Roseanne Schot on the excavations at Faughan Hill (part of the Tara Project) has recently been published in the open-access Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society.

The discovery of a major archaeological complex at Faughan Hill, County Meath, was first reported on in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society in 2015. Comprising a series of large hilltop enclosures, probable burial sites, and associated features, the character and scale of the complex marked this out as an important focal centre in a region populated with some of Ireland’s largest and most spectacular monument ensembles, not least at the Hill of Tara, 15 km to the south-east. A more complete picture of the site has since been revealed through further geophysical survey followed by test excavations by the Discovery Programme’s Tara Research Project. Two trenches excavated across the hilltop enclosures in 2017 yielded evidence of four discrete phases of activity spanning some 3000 years, from the mid-4th to mid-1st millennia BC. During the Middle Neolithic the hilltop was encircled by a fenced enclosure (3635–3380 cal BC) possibly associated with the production of stone tools. At 250 m in projected diameter it is one of the largest enclosures of the 4th millennium known in Ireland. This was superseded in the Late Bronze Age by a far more substantial, 400 m diameter multivallate enclosure (1280–920 cal BC) representing the only excavated hillfort of its type in Meath. The hill was the focus of renewed activity during the Early Iron Age (800–520 cal BC) and later became central to the political ambitions of aspiring, early Uí Néill kings of Tara, achieving particular reknown as the burial place of their eponymous ancestor, Niall of the Nine Hostages. Developments at Faughan are illuminated further by a wealth of prehistoric settlement and ritual sites in the surrounding area, as well as early documentary sources, and, collectively, speak to a regional centre and gathering place with long-lived social, symbolic, and political significance.

DOWLING, G., & SCHOT, R. (2023). Gathering Ground: Unearthing 3000 Years of Prehistory at Faughan Hill, Eastern Ireland. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 1-44. doi:10.1017/ppr.2023.6

Download paper here!

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