A HUGE temple, once surrounded by about 300 huge posts made from an entire oak forest, was discovered directly beneath the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.

The Discovery Programme, set up under the auspices of the Heritage Council, carried out a survey of the Hill of Tara between 1992 and 1996 using sophisticated technology, the team of experts mapped what was underground. The work was slow and tedious because it yielded such a huge amount of information.

What they uncovered eventually at the crown of the hill was a huge, oval-shaped monument measuring about 170 metres at its widest point. Around it are 300 post holes measuring two metres wide, indicating a massive human effort involved in the construction.

The head of the Project Mr Chris Newman said: “We think it probably dates from 2500 to 2300BC and still had a big physical presence even after the posts were taken out or rotted.”

The Hill of Tara, Teamhair or Cnoc na Teamhrach, is a hill and ancient ceremonial and burial site near Skryne in Co. Meath. According to tradition, it was the inauguration place and seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and it also appears in Irish mythology. Tara consists of numerous monuments and earthworks—from the Neolithic to the Iron Age—including a passage tomb, burial mounds, round enclosures, a standing stone (believed to be the Lia Fáil or “Stone of Destiny”), and a ceremonial avenue. There is also a church and graveyard on the hill. Tara is part of a larger ancient landscape and Tara itself is a protected national monument under the care of The Office of Public Works, an agency of the Irish Government.

Photo shows an aerial view of the Hill of Tara. Credit Anthony Murphy