The Hill of Tara
is today a mound in the county Meath
, on which the grass has veiled the rich heritage of the country. Nevertheless, since a long time ago historians, and most recently archaeologists, have done and continue doing efforts to unveil its mystery. The most known meaning of Tara in Irish history
is that it was the seat of the kings of Ireland until the sixth century
(this period extended indeed until the twelveth century
, but without the previous splendour it had known before), but too much is left to tell about the place. Tara is located near the River Boyne. Although some scholars have disagreed in the past about the date or historical period in which Tara begun to be important, it is now known that there are pre-Celtic monuments and buildings there, dating back to the Neolithic
, about 5,000 years ago. A theory that can help to date Tara's splendour in pre-Celtic times is the legendary story that names it as the capital of the Tuatha De Danaan, pre-Celtic dwellers of Ireland. When the Celts established their seat in the hill, it became the place from which the kings of Leinster ruled once Ireland with a godly status. On the top of the hill stands a pillar stone that was the Irish Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny) on which the High Kings of Ireland were crowned; it was said that the stone had to roar three times if the chosen one was a true king (compare with the Scottish Lia Fail
). Both Tara as a hill and a capital seem to have had not only political but religious influence, which diminished since St. Patrick
's time. Near the hill was also found a grave that is supposedly that of King Leoghaire, who was said the last Pagan king of Ireland.
The name Tara can derive either from ancient Gaelic 'tara', tower, or 'tor', height, since as it is a hill (height), most ancient ruins found at the site were circular, like the basic shape of a tower.