Videos are presented by Cormac Ó hAdhmaill
Download the new Discover Navan Fort Heritage app, free from the App Store. Let Cormac Ó hAdhmaill be your guide as you explore this unique historical location. The Discover Navan Fort Heritage app features presenter-led video clips that showcase the rich archaeological and mythological heritage of this important prehistoric site.
Navan Fort in the Iron Age – Site B Stone Cairn
Videos are located at 11 information points around Navan Fort. These videos are available in English and Irish and feature maps, reconstructions and re-enactments that relate to each location. The site’s Late Bronze Age and Stone Age origins are explored and its association with the heroic Ulster Cycle revealed.
The app can be enjoyed anywhere but it is best experienced at Navan Fort Co. Armagh. On location, at Navan Fort, GPS will trigger video content relating to your location, off location video is triggered by clicking the information points on the map.
The mound at Navan Fort
Download the app using a WIFI connection, and make your way to Navan Fort, which is situated 2 miles outside Armagh City. Choose your language; English of Gaelige and select your location.
Markers indicate video content located at Navan Fort
At Navan Fort: use the map to explore the location and locate information points. When you reach a point, video relating to that location will play. Off location, you can still view the videos by clicking on the information points.
Iron Age Ireland 200BC – AD 500
The Iron Age is defined in Ireland by the introduction of the La Téne design of metalwork, a style that is closely associated with the Celts. The finds from this period such as ornaments, horse tack and weaponry are associated with aristocratic members of society. There is little evidence of Iron Age settlement in Ireland apart from at the ‘royal’ sites of Tara, Co. Meath, Dún Ailinne on the hill of Knockaulin, Co. Kildare and Navan Fort. Again there is little burial evidence from this period, suggesting cremation was the most common method and the few grave goods found consisted of personal possessions such as pottery or weapons.
Navan Fort in the Iron Age 200 BC
Plan of Navan Fort showing Site A and Site B
Around Navan Fort, there was a resurgence of woodland c. 200 BC suggesting the collapse of agriculture, abandonment or population decline. The forest regeneration coincides with a rise in lake levels suggesting an increase in rainfall. These climatic changes coincide with an upsurge in ceremonial activity including the building of the mound at site B on Navan Fort and the deposition of the trumpets in Loughnashade. By the first or second centuries AD this decline was reversed and arable agriculture was again on the rise.
Navan Fort Site A & Site C in the Iron Age
Navan Fort site A Ring Barrow
The centre of the ring work lies 30m South-East of the centre of the enclosure. A wide hollow ring marks the line of a filled in ditch 30m in diameter and 2m deep, with traces of an external bank to the North and West. When complete the whole monument would have been 50m in diameter. The small internal area and lack of entrance and external bank suggest it was used as a ceremonial monument. A number of finds were discovered in the filled-in ditch including an Early Christian bronze brooch but radiocarbon dating of animal bones found at a lower level point to a much earlier date of occupation. Continue reading
Late Bronze Age Ireland 1200 – 300 BC
The number of bronze and gold ornaments and the hundreds of bronze spears and swords discovered from the Late Bronze Age suggest that society had become aristocratic and warlike. Burial patterns changed to be replaced by some unknown ritual. The few burials that have been discovered consist of cremations placed in a mound surrounded by a ring ditch. The increase in the number of Late Bronze Age hoards discovered suggests that a person’s wealth was publicly offered rather than buried with them. The majority of hoards are found in wetland areas suggesting the ritual of depositing precious objects in bodies of water.
There is little evidence of settlement from this period apart from hillforts which suggest political instability and the development of larger societies.
Navan Fort Complex in the Late Bronze Age
The evidence of Late Bronze Age occupation in Co.Armagh is limited to the Navan complex which includes settlement at Navan Fort and Haughey’s Fort, the King’s Stables ritual pool and the linear earthworks at Creeveroe.
Navan Fort in the Late Bronze Age: plan of the Navan fort Complex [copyright NIEA]
Early Bronze Age Ireland 2500 -1200BC
The main characteristics which distinguish the Neolithic period and the Early Bronze Age are seen in changes in pottery shape and use, refinement of flint heads for more effective hunting (ie barbed-and-tanged arrowhead) and the introduction of metal implements. There is little evidence of Early Bronze Age settlement in Ireland, but the few remains suggest that it consisted of small groups of rectangular and circular dwellings surrounded by timber palisades. These farmsteads would have been spread out in a patchwork of clearings surrounded by forest.
A change in burial patterns at this time suggests a shift in societal focus from the communal to the individual. The dead were either interred in a pit or stone cist or their cremated remains were deposited in an urn or other funeral pottery before internment. Grave goods included weapons, tools, ornaments and animal bones.
Early Bronze Age metalwork began with the production of simple copper and bronze axes and daggers and some gold ornaments. As the age progressed, more elaborate axes, longer daggers, halberds and spears were produced. These metal weapons were the preserve of the higher ranking members of the society whereas the rest of the community used a bow and arrow for hunting or fighting.
Navan Fort in the Early Bronze Age
Navan Fort in the Early Bronze Age- plough marks in the soil [copyright NIEA]
The beginning of the Bronze Age witnesses another phase of woodland regeneration followed by more clearance. Navan Fort witnessed a substantial forest clearance around 1900BC suggesting the expansion of arable agriculture in the vicinity. Pollen finds from Loughnashade indicate an increase in arable cultivation in the early part of the Bronze Age 1900-1000BC. This coincides with the criss cross grooves made by ploughing on the surface of the hilltop at site B
An early, rather thick example of a dirk ( a long dagger) is supposed to have been found near ‘the great Navan Rath’.
Navan Fort in the Early Bronze Age- a dirk [copyright NIEA]
Neolithic Ireland: The first farming communities 4000-2500 BC
The Neolithic period is marked by substantial changes in settlement pattern, technology, method of burial and the organisation of society. An economy based on hunting, fishing and gathering is replaced by one that focuses on the rearing of domestic livestock and the cultivation of cereals. After 4000BC, housing became more permanent, clay-built pots were used and the range of available equipment increased to include tools for clearing forests and reaping and processing grain. Large stone structures known as megaliths were built to serve as religious centres and to house the dead. The spread of megalithic tombs suggests that these farming communities were based in upland areas, living in small groups in rectangular houses. The analysis of contemporary pollen demonstrates that prior to the Neolithic period, Ireland was densely wooded. By 3900BC, woodland had declined and was replaced by cereals and grass indicating that farmers had cleared the woodland for growing crops and raising cattle and pigs. These clearances were sporadic and there are periods of forest regeneration throughout this age.
Navan Fort in the Neolithic Age
Navan Fort in the Neolithic Age: Examples of Neolithic pottery from Co. Armagh [copyright NIEA]
This is the first phase of human activity at Navan. The remains of at least 19 Neolithic pots and an assortment of stone tools including flint scrapers and stone axes were found at site B,
although the only evidence of building was a single pit and some charcoal-stained soil. Additional Neolithic finds were discovered during the building of the Navan Centre which included flint flakes, a plano-convex knife and a flint axe.
Navan Fort in the Neolithic Age: Examples of Neolithic Flints found in Co. Armagh [copyright NIEA]
Navan Fort is situated on a drumlin outside Armagh City in a rich archaeological landscape that includes Haughey’s Fort, The King’s Stables and Loughnashade. Navan Fort is identified as Emain Macha, the legendary capital of Ulster, celebrated in the heroic tales of the Ulster Cycle and comparable to other royal sites in Ireland. According to tradition, Knockaulin (Dún Ailinne) in Co. Kildare was the site of the inauguration of the Kings of Leinster, Tara in Co. Meath was associated with the Kings of Meath and Navan Fort was known as the seat of Kings of Ulster. The Navan Fort complex shows evidence of occupation dating back to the Neolithic period, but its the evidence from the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age that reinforces Navan Fort’s importance as a regional centre.
Aerial view of Navan Fort [copyright NIEA]