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(Eamhain Macha.)

The ancient royal capital of Ulster, Eamhain Maher, now known as Navan Fort, was the centre of ancient Irish culture. It was founded by Queen Macha and is associations with Cuchulainn the legendary Ulster warrior.

The fort is sixteen acres in area on a hill top with a large mound in the centre, it was most likely a ritual site rather than a defensive one, although considering the depth and scale of the surrounding ditches and It is part of a complex which included Lough na Shade, in which bones and sculls as well as four bronze trumpets were found in the 19th century, the king's stables a Bronze age ritual site to the north west; Haugheys fort to the west and ancient tombs in the hills to the North. One of the houses in the enclosure belonged to an important person as it contained the bones of a Barbary ape, probably a gift from North Africa.

The fort is thought to have been in use from 4000 to 5000 years ago, and was occupied from 700 to 100 BC when the sagas of the hero Cuchulainn was associated with it. The fort was destroyed in 332 AD.


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Queen Macha
 

The Celtic war fertility goddess Macha is said in the Annals of the four masters to have lived in the 7th century BC. She appears in three sets of stories it is thought she may have been three different people. The first married Nemhedh, said to have been a Scythian warrior who came to Ireland. She died on one of the twelve plains which was then named after her.

The second ruled Ireland around 700 BC . She lured five sons of a claimant into the forest, one by one and bound them up, later forcing them to build the royal fortress of Eamhain Macha.

The third forced herself upon Crunnchu a wealthy widower. Chunnchu boasted about his wife's strength at a gathering of Ulstermen , saying that she could outrun the kings horses. Although heavily pregnant, she took up the challenge and beat them, she then gave birth to twins, the exertion led to her death, but before she died, she cursed the men of Ulster saying that in Ulster's greatest hour of need the men would suffer the pains of childbirth

 

The King's Stable.

 

The King's Stables is a man made pool 25 M in diameter and 2.5 M deep it was built on the edge of a lake now overgrown. It is one Km west of Navan fort, tradition has it that the ancient Kings watered their horses and washed their chariots here, it is thought by some that the site may have been used for sacrificial purposes as part of a human scull was found in the mud along with parts of a mold for casting bronze swords.

 


Slieve Gullion.
 

Slieve Gullion has at its summit passage graves and to the south is a forest park with walks. It features in the epic prose. The Cattle Raids of Cooley.


Tourist Information
40 English Street
Armagh City
Co Armagh
Tel +44 (0)28 3752 1800
E Mail
Web Site