The IrishCentral vacation travel guide to mystical, mythological Ireland
One mile west of Navan Fort lies another myth site, the mysterious King’s Stables which is thought to have played a role in water rituals in the area.
King's Stables, which was built around 1000 B.C, is a 10-foot-deep man-made pool surrounded by a bank. It is believed that its significance had to do with water, because the prehistoric Celts are known to have practiced water cult ceremonies.
A brief excavation of the site in 1975 uncovered the front of a human skull that was severed from the back part, perhaps related to another famous Celtic cult ritual – the severed head, a large-scale beheading as human sacrifice to the Celtic gods.
You can take a tour of the sites through the Navan Center.
Stop 4: Beaghmore Stones Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
Stone circles in Ireland span across the Sperrins Mountains in Counties Tyrone, Derry and Fermanagh. In each area there is a concentration of sites made up of multiple stone circles. The circles have relatively small diameters and are comprised of 40 or so stones each.
The circles are typically misshapen and occur in pairs or multiples in one place.
Tyrone has the most stone circles; there are 61 known rings there. The most famous stone circle complex is at Beaghmore (“the moor of the birches”) in Co. Tyrone. The complex was accidentally uncovered in the 1940s while men were peat cutting. It took four years of excavation to remove a thick layer of protective peat and to uncover the 1269 stones of the seven-circle complex.
Thus far, seven stone circles, 13 cairns and several rows of standing stones that make up the Beaghmore complex have been uncovered, but it is assumed that even more are still hidden in the surrounding peat.
It is believed that the stone circles date back to 1600 B.C., but field walls, fireplaces and flint tools discovered at the site suggest that it was in use since 2900 B.C.
It seems that the builders of the complex wanted to point the stone rows at the midwinter sunset, so some archaeologists believe that the circles were constructed to record the movements of the sun and moon in order to mark lunar and solar events.
Alternatively, the stone rows are thought by many to have been used for ancient rituals, either religious or social.
The Beaghmore Stones lie 10 miles west of Cookstown, and can be accessed for free at anytime.
Stop 5: Grianan Ailigh Letterkenny, Co. Donegal