Navan Fort - Emain Macha, Armagh - Ancient Capital of Ulster

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Emain macha or Navan Fort on a misty morning Emain macha or Navan Fort on a misty morning ©Darren McLoughlin

Navan Fort, known in antiquity as Emain Macha is the former royal capital of Ulster - the northern province of Ireland.

Navan Fort is a large man-made circular enclosure that was occupied by the first farmers in Ireland over 4,000 years ago. It is circular and covers approximately 12 acres surrounded by a large bank and ditch and was continuously occupied from 700BC to 100BC with evidence of houses and other structures.

Part of its high mound can be seen here on a misty morning. This mound was formed in 100BC when a large building erected on the site was intentionally destroyed by fire and covered with soil.

It's a decent walk up to the high mound from the car park and on the morning that I took this image it was cold, the fog that sometimes covers the central plain of Ulster was slowly lifting as the sun rose in the sky; standing on the edge of the high mound I wondered about the history this ancient hill has seen. It is said to have been used until at least the 4th century AD and is a location featured heavily in Irish mythology with some of the most interesting tales to be heard from these shores centred on the green hill.

It is not surprising, given the importance of Navan Fort,  that the nearby city of Armagh became an important spiritual and scholastic centre during the 5th century.

As the early morning light grew brighter a dog bounded up the hill after a stick thrown by its owner while a blackbird searched through the recently cut grass.

My book Portrait of Armagh by Darren McLoughlin is available from Amazon or better still, contact me to buy a signed copy.

Last modified on Thursday, 08 April 2021 23:22
Darren McLoughlin

International travel photographer and Irishman in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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