PasteUp in progress

- a walk along the path of the M3 through the Gabhra Valley - with a basic overall view of the archaeological findings

compiled by Donagh from the Vigil on the Hill of Tara
- some additions by Anita Greg and Martin Dier



Roestown-Ardsallagh on the Boyne =7 miles
and over 30 sites

Navan – Dunshaughlin 42 sites


  click above for larger version of map

Roestown 1 mile N Of Dunshauglan

7 Souterrains were discovered on route.
3 were excavated then filled in and then 4 more were discovered
and because they were excavated like this they were regarded as separate and not a whole complex
However -  Off the Route Geophys maps showmore in nearby field.

Souterrains still totally intact with capstones on the ceilings and the rooms didn't need to be dug out as they were still hollow.


In these Souterrains various artifacts were found . one of these was a ficheall board, this is an ancient Irish game something akin to chess, a game of the nobility, particularly Kings.
Glass beads were found, worked bones that would have been used for smelting metal in, there were some hair combs made of bones that had decorative carving on, and hair pins with what looked like Runic script carved on them, all found in the Souterrains.


Across the road (N3) there are several other archaeological sites. Geophys shows circular enclosures and D shaped enclosures that are all part of the same complex .
However nothing as dramatic was found there.


Heading N-E going steadily up hill to a large plateau at Trevit ( halfway between Dunshauglin and Navan ) After 1 km is  Garretstown where there are 4 massive ringed ditch enclosures similar to others found on the route at Baronstown and Ardsallagh .

These look like ring houses in a cluster on the route
but more off the route shown by geophys survey show them to be part of a larger more extensive complex.


Several more archaeological sites are seen on the way up to Trevit but these are smaller .
No massive enclosures or ring ditches but there have been findings of flint , small fire pits where people had fires lit and pottery shards which are evidence of early life in this part of this country.

Trevit is the furthest point away from the existing road of the proposed M3 .
 Medieval enclosures were found there with stone foundations and low stone walls.



Crossing over down the far side of the plateau to a place called Clowanstown there are smaller archaeological sites that show evidence that this was a place where people lived as there were artifacts found of flint, bits of metal , shards of pottery and burnt spreads in the soil
Off the route in this area there are a couple of standing stones very close, also barrow and ring ditches.
Although no massive structures were found here it is obvious that it is very much part of the complex that surrounds it.





Once you come down from the slope of the plateau you come to a long flat area that runs right through the middle of the valley. This is Collierstown and at the start of Collierstown here you have a massive ring ditch enclosure .
Once you go past that you go into the graveyard consisting of 2 mounds,
One had burials underneath it the second one didn't.
In the one with the burials  they firstly found about 60 bodies . These were placed with their faces towards the rising sun which indicates that they are likely to be early Christian. Once they had excavated all these bodies they found underneath this another graveyard which is much much older and these are a far more confusing as these bodies were incomplete , missing arms and feet and heads, and this possibly is a graveyard after a battle.
Which is very interesting as the last battle of Na Fianna was meant to have happened right around this area.

Again there are standing stones around this area.

The graveyard itself is within a large ringed ditch and in the ditch there are cist graves which are lined with black worked  stones.
The black stone is cut into thin sharp slabs similar to a kind of slate, with a black capstone laid over the top. There were about  20-30 cist lined graves found, and there were 160-180 separate remains found in total in this one little graveyard which was in one of the mounds
 In the ditch around it were numerous animal bones .  They were not in the graveyard but around it and they are at the same depth and therefore date from about the same time. *(ask Donagh what conclusions you can make from this?)


Across from there, across a small road, you will find massive ringed enclosures right along side the Gabhra stream
You cross this and you come to Barronstown . This stretch is several hundred yards.
In Barronstown there were 3 massive ringed ditches which was a mad site in itself as it was full of thousands and thousands of animal bones, uncountable amounts.
Human bones were found here too.
Inside the ditches they found thousands and thousands of animal bones most of them were burnt which shows that they were cooked and there was evidence that people were cooking and eating the animals here. It was massive feasts, continuous use , not just a one off event as the bones had layered up over time.

This was locally called the feasting ground and up until as recently as 60  years ago up until the 1950's local people still came here on the Solstice and had picnics here. At the end of the site there is a small stone wall which is extremely old and this was built upon an older wall which was built on an older wall and you can see in the excavation that it layers of different ages of walls. This site is between Rath Medbh and Skreen and it is interesting in its trajectory to Tara and its relationship with Tara.

They also found a large Key Hole furnace probably even slightly later than the ring ditches, and several other kilns and small artifacts of pottery and a couple of standing stones within a couple of hundreds yards of this place.

Baronstown was said by  Pat Wallace , Director of the Nation Museum , to be of equal importance to the giant wood henge at  Lismullin.

The site was destroyed by bulldozers at 4am in the morning  - just hours before the Minister was to  declare it a National Monument .

Furnaces  between Baronstown and Rath Lugh

Then you cross over the road and move up the proposed route heading towards Rath Lugh and Lismullin. And on the way there were 3 large archeology sites found before you get to Rath Lugh
One was a large ring ditch enclosures and the rest were archaeological finds such as ochre ,  used for dyeing red and yellow.
There were also red clay lined pits and there are different ideas of what these were used for. One was that the red clay lined the base of massive furnaces that were used for smelting metal, another is that they are a very early form of a grave, more people have spoken of them being kilns.
One pit in particular is about 5m in diameter, which would make you think maybe it is a furnace, and there are dozens and dozens of furnaces and kilns in the area for the smelting of metal, and making pottery in the area which suggests that this was possibly an industrial area.

Rath Lugh

Then you come to Rath Lugh which is a National Monument  which is one of the outer defense Raths of Tara, the proposed route is meant to run right over one side of it and this has already been seriously damaged on one side of it by the construction vehicles.




30 yards along from this  , off the route you have another barrow and another souterrain complex
- and off the route the other side there are more souterrains

It is as if the route weaves its way through a mosaic of national monuments literally 10 yards either side of the route, at 100-200 yards along from Rath Lugh you have the Henge which is a National Monument

entrance to souterrain - Lismullin

Souterrain complex at Lismullin

The Wood Henge

 So  - there are three National Monuments in the space of 1 mile on this route.

 The Henge at Lismullin is only one part of that site, long before it was discovered or announced you had souterains on and off the route . The ones off the route haven't been excavated or examined and no relationship between them and the ones on the route have been established by archaeologists.

There are also finds of Bronze Age and Iron Age pottery and then much later kilns from the Medieval period. Also on the Lismullin site not the Henge itself  burials have been found and they have been denied, but the skeletons of human beings and graves were seen by people on the campaign.
Mechanical diggers were used to strip topsoil on the Lismullin site and in the stripped topsoil pieces of pottery were found by campaigners and were brought to an expert potter to examine. According to this expert, one of the pieces of pottery was from the Bronze Age, while another piece has a glaze on it, which is Medieval. There were also some clay pipes from the 17th century.
So there were fragments from a wide range of Irish history on the Lismullin site.

Medieval burial of a hound

- view topic on Mythical Ireland website -

During the excavation and demolition of one of the souterrains was found a stone - just over a metre  long and with megalithic inscriptions . It had been split to be used as the capstone of the souterrain but must have been taken from a passage grave nearby .

We do not know what the inscriptions mean - it has been suggested that the lines represent a calendar system 
or that the lines represent a system of measurement and that they are maps 
It has also been sugested that they are copied from the patterns that very low frequency sound forms in smoke and dust - there are many speculations -
but the only thing we know for sure is that the presence of this stone in this location proves beyond doubt that there are megalithic connections in this area which had not been realised

on Indymedia - more pictures and comments


which means, as we have said all along, that Tara was the whole valley as well as the Hill top.

The Henge is an Iron age feature of postholes delineating a small circle within a larger circle.
This site seems to be used only once before fading into the Lismullin area. The size of the post holes suggests that the wall would most likely been of chest height. Similar sites such as sea henge in Britain were used as sky burial sites where the body was pecked clean by carrion birds

Also at the Lismullin site we see long drain like features that slice through the henge. These actually predate the henge which is a huge surprise as they look like modern drainage ditches, but date to either the bronze age or stone age.  The most comparable example of this is the world famous Ceide Fields in Mayo which is a preserved Neolithic field system which shows how field boundaries, graves and dwellings were all interspersed. The same could be said of this landscape at Lismullin/Tara.
But as this is a sacred landscape it likely these sites are even more significant.

Soldier Hill / Blundelstown

From Lismullin, the route goes towards Soldier Hill and Blundelstown which has the largest amount of flint and kilns anywhere on the route.
There are dozens of red-lined pits, ie/ clay lined kilns, and bits of pottery and flint scattered around the area. There were lots of bones here but mostly animal bones , the place appears to be an industrial centre.

Blundelstown is within a few hundred yards of Rath Miles, which is another outer defense fort (like Rath Lugh) and there were several sites with the same kind of material.


From Soldier Hill, the route goes toward Dowdstown, which is on the banks of the Boyne. There was a ring ditch enclosure found here, along with a lot of evidence of habitation. This was more than likely a round house settlement


Across the Boyne is Ardsallagh, where some cremation pits were found. There was a very interesting burial, comprising 27 bodies in a semi circle, with their feet pointing inwards. The open end of the circle pointed towards the Hill of Tara. There was also a cremation urn from the Bronze age found. Also a large stone was found placed at the feet of one of these bodies.
It was claimed that the burial was early Christian although if this were the case the bodies would be in an East-West orientation. This is very interesting in that the artifacts seem to suggest the burial was early Christian, but the bodies were buried in a Pagan way, suggesting that these burials were neither Christian nor Pagan and therefore dating from a very brief period in history when the two religions were intermingling.
However in the center of the burial was an urn which comes from much much older tradition. The evidence seems to contradict itself (or else point towards something previously unknown). Throughout Ardsallagh there was also traces of flint scattered in the area.

There were many old trees in Ardsallagh, including ancient Elm, Yew, Oak, Ash and Chestnut.
Yew trees take around 150 years to form a bark and start to look like trees and in Ardsallagh there were some Yew trees with trunks six foot in diameter at the base, obviously extremely old, possibly old enough to have been there at the funeral that took place next to it. Legally (Donagh is told) any tree over two hundred years old is a living National Monument. To interfere with a National Monument without the consent of the Minister of Environment is a criminal offence that can result in a prison sentence. At the time that the trees were cut, (in January, before the PPP was signed) the reason given was to gain access to the archaeological sites


What has been found, and what has been destroyed, is just a fraction of what is in he whole area. By discussing them seperately you are taking away from them by not thinking of each site as part of an enormous complex of monuments


(Tag bag and store. Law states that bones should be re-intered or stored in a museum after 2 years)



  click for the official reports of the excavations so far -  
 click for the reports so far on the Human remains  -     





download powerpoint presentation - zipped

download rough transcript










cist graves

ceide fields

wikipedia - 

  more about - 


LINKS TO OFFICIAL REPORTS    -  Project: M3 Clonee-North of Kells Motorway Scheme

Findings Report Summary   M3 Motorway Scheme ( short but with pictures - )

Full reports - updated Nov 2007




Tara: Ceremonial and Mythical Capital of Ireland
By - Edel Bhreathnach.



Julitta Clancy to the Oireachtas