Archaeological Survey at the Hill of Tara

 Archaeologist at Tara

Over a two week period in August archaeologists from ACSU carried out test excavations and metal detection survey at Saint Patrick’s Churchyard at the Hill of Tara on behalf of the National Monuments Service and the Office of Public Works. This archaeological assessment was carried out in advance of conservation works of the graveyard wall. St Patrick’s Church is located within the Hill of Tara archaeological complex of monuments. The present church at Tara stands alongside the site of an earlier medieval church which was associated with the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John of Kilmainham in County Dublin. The Hospitallers possessions, including the church at Tara were confirmed to them by Pope Innocent III in 1212. The church was said to be a functioning parish church until the sixteenth century after which it fell into disrepair. In 1622 the Protestant Bishop of Dublin James Ussher visited Tara and noted that the church and chancel were in ruins.

Archaeological Excavations at Hill of Tara

In 1822 the medieval church was demolished and was replaced by the present church; all that remains of the original church is a large block of masonry in the graveyard and some of the fine dressed masonry incorporated into the church and graveyard wall. The current church is a Board of First Fruits church built in 1822-23, and is now in use as a heritage centre.

Archaeology Finds at Tara Archaeological Finds Tara Window Fragment

During the project three areas were excavated by hand along the line of the graveyard wall. Finds from the three trenches included medieval pottery, medieval floor tile and masonry from the medieval church.

This project is one of five National Monument sites that ACS staff have carried work out at this year including Durrow Abbey, Knowth Archaeological Complex, Mellifont Abbey and St Colmcille’s House Kells.