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Evidence of Iron Age temple complex uncovered at Navan Fort

The research will be published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.

Figure 2_Navan Fort Aerial Photograph(1) Navan Fort is located in Co Armagh Source: Queen's University Belfast

EVIDENCE FOR A series of monumental temple complexes of the Iron Age has been uncovered by researchers at Navan Fort, Co Armagh. 

The academics from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Aberdeen also uncovered evidence for residences of early kinds of Ulster from the medieval period at Navan Fort. 

The research was carried out in the form of a survey, which will be published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology. 

The sighting evidences a vast temple complex of continued medieval activity during the period when Navan Fort was associated with the kingship of Ulster. 

It is one of Ireland’s so-called royal sites, a group of five ceremonial centres of prehistoric origin, documented in the medieval period as the capitals of the five fifths that divided the country. 

“Excavation in the 1960s uncovered one of the most spectacular series of buildings of any region of prehistoric Europe, including a series of figure-of-eight buildings in the early Iron Age and a 40m timber-ringed structured constructed c 95 BC,” Dr Patrick Gleeson, research lead, said. 

“Upon the latter’s construction, it was immediately filled with stones and burnt to the ground in order to create a massive mound that now dominates the site,” he said. 

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Dr Gleeson added that the researchers’ 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”. 

Dr John O’Keeffe, principal inspector of historic monuments in the NI Department of Communities said: “The work has shone new light on the monument, and will inform further research as we explore what Navan Fort meant to our forebears and how they used the site for years to come. 

“It provides additional insights that inform visits to this enigmatic monument and landscape today.”

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