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17 Jul, 2020 13:21

Vast, subterranean Iron Age temples linked to ancient kings of Ireland discovered

Vast, subterranean Iron Age temples linked to ancient kings of Ireland discovered

An international team of experts have uncovered a vast temple complex they believe may have been the one-time ceremonial center of prehistoric Europe, at a site with deep roots in Irish folklore and mythology.

Researchers from Northern Irish, Scottish, and German institutes uncovered a vast subterranean temple complex at Navan Fort in County Armagh in Northern Ireland, believed to have been the former seat of early Ulster kings. 

The temples and residences were detected in a non-invasive survey which employed state of the art remote-sensing technology which detects magnetic signatures and electrical resistance of the soil to reveal that for which there was previously no trace above ground. 


“Our discoveries add significant additional data, hinting that the buildings uncovered in the 1960s were not domestic structures lived in by kings, but a series of massive temples, some of the largest and most complex ritual arena of any region of later prehistoric and pre-Roman northern Europe,” explained Dr. Patrick Gleeson of Queen’s University Belfast. 

Gleeson described uncovering “a series of figure-of-eight buildings of the early Iron Age and a 40m timber-ringed structure constructed (around) 95 BC,” explaining further that this massive timber building would have, upon construction, been filled with stones and burned to the ground to form the ceremonial mound we see today.

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The area is closely tied to Irish folklore, located in the ancient capital of Ulster and one of Ireland’s five royal sites of five of prehistoric origin, closely linked with myths like the Táin and story of Cú Chulainn. 

The actual excavation of the site will require significant funding which has yet to be secured, though the nearby visitor center is likely to be abuzz with curious history buffs when it reopens to the public on July 30, having been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

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