- Emain Macha
:"Navan Fort should not be confused with
Navanin County Meath."
Emain Macha or Emuin Macha (
Old Irish, pronounced IPA|/ˈeṽənʲ ˈṽaxə/), Eamhain Mhacha (Modern Irish, pronounced IPA|/ˈawnʲ ˈwaxə/), sometimes Latinised/Anglicised as Emania and known in English as Navan Fort, is an ancient monument in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Although called a "fort", it is considered more likely to have been a ritual or ceremonial site. It appears to have been abandoned by the first century AD. It is also a significant site in Irish mythology, particularly the Ulster Cycle. Navan Fort is a State Care Historic Monument in the townlandof Navan, in Armagh City and District Councilarea, at grid ref: area of H847 452. [cite web | title=Navan Fort | work=Environment and Heritage Service NI - State Care Historic Monuments | url=http://www.ehsni.gov.uk/state_care_monuments_2007.pdf | accessdate=2007-12-03]
The site, on a low hill approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 km) west of the city of
Armagh, is a circular enclosure 250 metres (820 ft) in diameter, surrounded by a bank and ditch. Unusually, the ditch is inside the bank, suggesting it was not built for defensive purposes. Inside the enclosure two monuments are visible. Off-centre to the north-west is an earthen mound 40 metres (130 ft) in diameter and 6 metres (20 ft) high. Also slightly off-centre to the south-east is the circular impression of a ring-barrow, the ploughed-down remains of a late prehistoric ceremonial or burial monument, about 30 metres (100 ft) in diameter.cite book |last= Lynn |first= Chris |authorlink= |coauthors= |title= Navan Fort: Archaeology and Myth |origdate= |origyear= |origmonth= |edition= |series= |volume= |date= |year= 2003 |month= |publisher= Wordwell Books |location= Spain |language= |isbn= 1869857674 |oclc= |doi= |id= |pages= |chapter= ]
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the construction of the 40 metre mound dates to 95 BC (securely dated by
dendrochronology).navan, p. 61] A circular structure consisting of four concentric rings of posts around a central oaktrunk was built, its entrance facing west (prehistoric houses invariably face east, towards the sunrise). The floor of the building was covered with stones arranged in radial segments, and the whole edifice was deliberately burnt down before being covered in a mound of earth and turf (there is archaeological evidence for similar repeated construction and immolation of Temuir and the Dún Ailinne).navan, p. 24-25] The bank and ditch that surround the hilltop were built at the same time.
No secure date can be assigned to the ring-barrow, but excavations and geophysical surveys have revealed the remains of a figure–of–eight shaped wooden building underneath. The larger ring of the figure–of–eight was 30 metres (100 ft) in diameter, the smaller about 20 metres (65 ft). The building had been rebuilt twice. Similar, slightly smaller structures, each with a central hearth, were found under the 40 metre mound. Artifacts found in these layers show they were inhabited in the late
Bronze Ageand early Iron Age(approximately 600 to at least 250 BC). Perhaps the most unusual item found in these layers was the skull of a Barbary Macaque.navan, p. 49]
An earlier Bronze Age structure, a circular ditch surrounding the mound, 45 metres (150 ft) in diameter, 5 metres (16 ft) wide and 1 metre (3 ft) deep, was also found, and flint tools and fragments of pottery show activity at the site in the
Neolithic(ca. 4000 to 2500 BC).
The Navan complex
Other significant prehistoric sites in the vicinity include
Haughey's Fort, an earlier Bronze Age hill fort two-thirds of a mile (1 km) to the west; the King's Stables, an artificial pool also dating to the Bronze Age; and Loughnashade, a natural lake which has produced Iron Age artefacts.
Emain Macha in Irish mythology
Irish mythologyand historical tradition it was the capital of the Ulaid, the people who gave their name to the province of Ulster. It was supposedly founded by the goddessMacha in the 5th or 7th century BC, and was the seat of Conchobar mac Nessain the tales of the Ulster Cycle. Conchobar is said to have had three houses at Emain Macha:
*the "Cróeb Ruad" ("Dull
Red Branch", whence derives the nearby townland of Creeveroe) where the king sat;
*the "Cróeb Derg" ("Bright Red Branch"), where trophies of battle were kept, and
*the "Téte Brecc" ("Speckled Hoard") where the warriors' weapons were stored. The name Emain Macha is variously explained as "Macha's neck-brooch", after Macha marked out the boundaries of the site with her brooch, and "Macha's twins", after Macha gave birth to twins after being forced to compete in a chariot-race. The
Annals of the Four Mastersrecord that it was abandoned after it was burned by the Three Collasin 331 AD, after they had defeated Fergus Foga, king of Ulster, in battle at Achadh Leithdheirg
Until 1985, the site was threatened by the expansion of a nearby limestone quarry. Due largely to the efforts of the activist group Friends of Navan, a public inquiry held that year halted further quarrying, and recommended that the site be developed for tourism. A visitor centre, featuring archaeological artefacts and audio-visual exhibitions, was opened in 1993, but closed in 2001 for lack of funds. [cite book |last= Bender |first= Barabara |authorlink= |coauthors= |editor= Layton, Robert |others= |title= Destruction and Conservation of Cultural Property |origdate= |origyear= |origmonth= |url= |format= |accessdate= |accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition= |series= |volume= |date= |year= 2001 |month= |publisher=
Routledge|location= |language= |isbn= 0415216958, |oclc= |doi= |id= |pages= 199-209|chapter= The Politics of the Past: Emain Macha (Navan), Northern Ireland] It reopened on a seasonal basis in 2005 after the site was bought by Armagh City and District Council.
In Popular Culture
Irish heavy metal band
Waylanderhas a song called "Emain Macha" on their 1998 Century Media album Reawakening Pride Once Lost.
MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot, "Emain Macha" is the name of a frontier zone, in which the realm of Hibernia must protect in order to safeguard their realm and relics. [ [http://daoc.shadowsedge.org/emain.php Shadows Edge - DAOC - Emain - Dark Age of Camelot New Frontiers Map ] ]
Emain Macha also appears in the
MMORPGMabinogi, which is a Korean computer game. The fortress-city of Emain Macha is a lakeside medium town, and is the residence of the Dukeof Emain Macha. The city is also the headquarters of the Knightly order of Paladins.
Ronald Hutton, "Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles", 1991
* [http://www.visitarmagh.com/attractiondetails.php?menuid=2&submenuid=21&groupid=1&see_id=12 Visit Armagh]
* [http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=5&url=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.bbc.co.uk%2F1%2Fhi%2Fnorthern_ireland%2F4075872.stm&ei=qBRaRcfMNo6WnQPAqJivCQ&usg=__6rtwoqLUJ0Gba2n09Xs2YZIysj4=&sig2=afxt_a8_e3mVmGuy_mC72g"High Hopes for NI Tourist Centre"] (BBC News)
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/timelines/ni/emain_macha.shtml BBC Timelines]
* [http://www.ehsni.gov.uk/places/monuments/navan.shtml Environment and Heritage Service page on Navan Fort, with photos]
* [http://www.geographyinaction.co.uk/Assets/Photo_albums/Eleven/pages/Navan_Fort.html Geography in Action: Navan Fort]
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