The central monument of Tlachtga itself is an impressive earthwork. Measuring approximately 135 m in diameter from outside of bank to outside of bank, it is also surrounded by a scarping (presumably providing some of the material from which the outer banks were constructed) to an additional width of c. 15 m around the entire circumference. The number of known quadrivallate enclosures is very low, and includes Rathra, Co. Roscommon (http://goo.gl/maps/aPjif), the Rath of the Synods at the Hill of Tara and the enclosure at Rathdrinna, Co. Tipperary, currently the focus of an excavation project (http://www.facebook.com/Rathnadrinna). Tlachtga differs markedly from Rathra and Rathdrinna in that the majority of the monument is taken up with its vallations leaving little room for a large interior space. The central mounded portion at Tlachtga measures c. 50 m in diameter, significantly more than a third of the total diameter of the monument. This is closer to the situation at the Rath of the Synods, where the total monument diameter is c. 85 m while the inner enclosure is approximately 32 m in diameter.
The Hill of Ward, near Athboy, Co. Meath is home to the spectacular quadrivallate ringfort of Tlachtga (‘Earth-spear’). Reputedly the birthplace of Halloween and home to a long-standing Samhain fire-festival, the monument takes its name from the daughter of the legendary Mog Ruith, the alleged executioner of John the Baptist.
This blog is intended to follow some recent discoveries and ongoing research at the Hill of Ward and its environs.
Recent work with lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) at the site has revealed a range of potentially interesting features and has greatly increased our understanding of the archaeology of the area. Prior to this the number of recorded monuments in the area was very low, with Tlachtga itself accompanied by a holy well (ME030-030) and a church (ME030-002) known as Temple Cuimhneas (the Church of Remembrance). Newly identified features include a deserted medieval settlement at Wardstown, an embanked enclosure similar to those at Brú na Bóinne and a pair of parallel outer embankments to the north of Tlachtga itself. I will discuss some of these in more detail in future entries.
Current plans are progressing towards some geophysical survey this summer, concentrating on the monument of Tlachtga itself, the embanked enclosure and the outer embankments.
Watch this space!