Saturday, July 10, 2010

Navan

There are times when we head off to a place, not really expecting much, only to be totally amazed.  So it was with Navan.  The guide book described it as a man made hill, built by the celts under the direction of their druids.  The visitor center was no longer opened.  An hour to see the place, tops.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The visitors center is not only opened, it's a new,earth bermed structure with a great interactive hall telling the history of the place, as well as early Ireland. They even have the skull of a Barbary ape that was found during excavations. The ape arrived here around 500 BC, evidence of the wide trading that was done by the locals.  Plus, there was a delightful cafe where we had lunch.


Outside, they have built a model of an early Christian era dwelling, which is inhabited by docents who are very good at their jobs.  They stayed in character, as people living in 380 AD, explaining how they made their house, grew their foods,  raised their children, even some of their beliefs.  They asked if Bill was a druid because he had a long beard and looked very wise.  I almost laughed outloud!

Wicker man's head and torso, the arms are leaning against the fence.

They are building a wicker man to burn on Lunesa, complete with a sacrifice inside.  When we left the village, they gave us a small hand full of barley to offer to the god, Lu, when we arrived at the top of Navan.  Lu is the god of sunshine.  We made the offering, but so far, it's still raining.  Bill thinks we needed more barley.

The walk to the base of the hill was about a quarter of a mile, then we went up, up, up.  This site was most active around 100 BC when a 40m across round building was erected and filled with stone.  It was then burned and covered with soil to make the beautiful dome we see today.   The skirt walls were 3 meters, with the top of the domed area being 15 meters high, all on top of a hill.  Great views.  I can understand why this would be a good place for gatherings and talking to the gods.



To give you an idea of the size, since it doesn't really show in the picture.  This is a tree we could see from the hill. 
Me sitting on the tree trunk.  It's a big old tree!

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