Heritage Discoveries: The Navan Sanctuary

Artist's impression of the Navan sanctuary from B. Raftery 1994, Pagan Celtic Ireland.

Navan Fort in Co. Armagh is one of Ireland’s royal sites. The site is situated on a Drumlin which is enclosed by an external bank and internal ditch with a diameter of nearly 300m that was built in the Iron Age. Excavation of the site between 1961 and 1971 revealed that activity dated back to the Neolithic but the most spectacular find was at Site B where a large circular sanctuary was built just after 95 BC. This was a very large circular building with a diameter of 40m that was constructed with a wall of oak posts. In the interior 5 concentric rings of 280 oak posts with a massive central post that may have been up to 13m high supported the roof. This grandiose sanctuary was in use for only a relatively short time, perhaps just a few months or years, before the interior was filled with limestone boulders and then a layer of brushwood and the whole building was deliberately set on fire. Finally a mound of turves was built over the remains of the structure sealing it for over 2000 years.

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