Download Discover Navan Fort Heritage App

photograph of presenter Cormac Ó hAdhmaill

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

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

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.




Map showing markers that indicate video content located at navan Fort

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.



Navan Fort in the Iron Age

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

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

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

Navan Fort Overview

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

Aerial view of Navan Fort [copyright NIEA]

Continue reading

Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age Artefacts

After going through the archaeological evidence from the Navan Fort complex I decided to  expand my research to look at artefacts found in other regions in Ireland from the periods of occupation at Navan. This information will help to build a clearer picture of the peoples who would have worked, occupied and revered Navan Fort.

The following images are from A History of Ireland in 100 objects which is a great resource for looking at artefacts from key periods in the history of Ireland.

Neolithic Period 4000 BC – 2500 BC

Evidence discovered while constructing the Navan Centre and during excavation of the  mound (site B) at Navan Fort points to Neolithic occupation of the area. Finds included shards of Neolithic pottery, a stone axe, flint flakes, a plano-convex knife and flint axe.

Image from History of Ireland in 100 objects: Ceremonial Axehead 3600BC

History of Ireland in 100 objects: Ceremonial Axehead 3600BC

This Jadeite axehead was found in Kincraigy, Co. Donegal. The stone comes from Mont Beigua, Italy  c. 4300 BC and was probably brought to Ireland by immigrant farmers from northern France. This rare axehead symbolised the power of  humans over nature and it was a high status item which gave prestige to its owner.








Image from A History of Ireland in 100 Objects: Annagh Drinking bowl

A History of Ireland in 100 Objects: Annagh Drinking bowl 3500BC

This pot was one of three vessels discovered in a small cave in Annagh, Co. Limerick. The pots were grave offerings found alongside three full human skeletons, two sets of partial remains, animal bones, a flint blade and arrowhead. These pots were probably used for drinking and demonstrate a form of domesticity. The animal bones were from domestic and wild species, showing that while hunting was still important for these people the farming of livestock was gradually becoming the norm.


A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Flint Mace Head 3300-2800BC

This intricately carved macehead was found in the great passage Tomb at Knowth in Co. Meath. All six surfaces of this piece of flint have been intricately carved with diamond shapes and swirling spirals and demonstrates the high levels of artistic and technical ability in Neolithic society.





Early Bronze Age  C. 2500-1200 BC

Shallow grooves discovered under the mound (site B) at Navan Fort indicate that the area was ploughed and cultivated prior to the construction of the wooden buildings. 

Image from A History of Ireland in 100 objects:  Pair of Gold Discs 2200 - 2000BC

A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Pair of Gold Discs 2200 – 2000BC

These gold discs were found in Tedavnet in Co. Monaghan and are decorated with crosses worked  with rows of dots, lines and zig-zag patterns. Golden discs were associated with reverence of the sun and these items may have been wore by a king who wished to associate himself with its life-giving power.

Late Bronze Age, 1200-300 BC

The remains of a Late Bronze Age ditched enclosure were uncovered under Site B at Navan Fort along with four small bronze objects chacteristic of this period: a socketed axe head, a tiny spear head a sickle blade and a mount from a scabbard.

The figure of eight structures discovered under the mound (Site B)  spanned the transistion from Late Bronze Age to Iron Age.

An image from A history of Ireland in 100 objects: Tara Torcs c1200BC

A history of Ireland in 100 objects: Tara Torcs c1200BC

These gold torcs were found close to the Rath of the Synods on the Hill of Tara in Co.Meath. They were made by hammering a gold bar into four thin flanges which were then twisted into a circle. These large torcs may have been worn by the kings of Tara. Whereas previous torcs were made from a small amount of gold hammered into a sheet that was shaped and decorated, these later torcs required a larger amount of gold and more sophisticated construction. The quality of these torcs denote the importance of Tara and its combined political, religious and spirital power.

Image from A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Glenasheen Gorget c 800-700Bc

A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Glenasheen Gorget c 800-700Bc

This beautiful gold collar was found in 1932 in the Burren, Co. Clare. It had been bent in two, probably to release its power, before it was buried. The gorget was made at the height of gold working in Europe and demonstrates the range of artistic and technical skills of craftsman at this period. These Irish collars are similar in structure and decoration to European bronze cuirasses (a highly decorated piece of armour that covers the torso) and represent the  European warrior cult.

An Image from A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Castlederg Cauldron 700- 600BC

A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Castlederg Cauldron 700- 600BC



This bronze caldron was found in a bog in Castlederg in Co. Tyrone. It was made from sheets of bronze shaped and held in place by rows of rivets. The skills required to craft this item and the repairs made to such cauldrons suggest they were highly prized and owned by  the most important members of society such as a king. The cauldron was most likely used as part of a ceremony reflecting  the use of bronze feasting equipment seen in Western and Central Europe at this time.

An image from A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Armlet Old-croghan man 362-175BC

A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Armlet Old-Croghan man 362-175BC

The body of the Old-Croghan Man was discovered in a bog at Croghan Hill, Co. Offaly in 2003. The leather and tinned bronze armlet with stamped metal clips representing the sun denotes the wearer was a person of high status. The man endured a violent death: hazel rods were threaded through holes in his upper arms, he was stabbed in the chest, struck in the neck,  decapitated and cut in half. This was a ritualistic ‘triple killing’, a sacrifice made to appease the three natures of the goddess of sovereignty, fertility and war/death. Old-Croghan man was young and healthy at the time of his death. He was found close to the inaugural site of the kings of Ui Failge and is thought to have been a king or aristocrat who was sacrificed by the people at a time when Ireland became colder and food more scarce.

Iron Age 200BC – AD 500

Further concentric slots provide evidence of multiple figure of eight wooden buildings at site B.

The remains of a large wooden structure was discovered under the mound, at site B. The building was filled with a stone cairn and had been set alight. The burnt remains and the cairn were covered in turves and soil to form the present day mound.

Excavations of the barrow at site A and a later excavation at Site C uncovered two sets of  three concentric slots which form the foundations of a large wooden  figure of eight structure. This 50 m long, Iron Age, structure is contemporary with the building of large wooden building at site B and can be dated to c. 100BC.

Image from A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Broighter Boat c100BC

A History of Ireland in 100 objects: Broighter Boat c 100BC

This gold boat is part of a hoard uncovered at Broighter, Co. Derry on the shores of Lough Foyle. It is thought the hoard was left as a votive offering to a sea god. The boat is only 20cm long but it is highly detailed and thought to be a model of an actual ocean-going vessel. The full-size boats would have been made of wood or hide and used to trade with Britain and Europe.

Navan Fort’s Archaeological Landscape

View Navan archaeological landscape in a larger map

Articles and Links relating to Navan Fort’s Archaeological Landscape

Loughnashade trumpet

In the late 18th Century, four Bronze trumpets were found by workmen in the boggy ground around Loughnashade, east of Navan. Subsequently three were lost and the surviving Loughnashade trumpet is kept in the National Museum of Ireland. The trumpet measures 1.10m and it was most likely used in Celtic rituals. It is thought Loughnashade was a sacred lakes where the Celts deposited precious goods in the water as offerings to their Gods.

  • Short video from the NIEA/ Hidden Heritage series looking at the Loughnashade trumpet.