Decorated stone, orthostat L2, Mound of the Hostages by Ursula Mattenberger
O’Sullivan, M., & na Ngiall, D., 2005, Duma na nGiall (The Mound of the Hostages),Tara. Wicklow, 246.

The Mound of the Hostages (Duma na nGiall), is the oldest visible monument on the Hill of Tara. The mound covers a passage tomb built 5,000 years ago (around 3,000 BC). It was used as a place to bury human remains for more than 1,500 years. The mound lies near the northern edge of a large enclosure called Ráith na Ríg (Fort of the Kings) which was built around 100 BC. The line of Ráith na Ríg was laid out so that the ancient mound would lie within it thus respecting its importance. The Mound of the Hostages got it name in the medieval period because it was the place where the symbolic exchange of hostages took place.
The Tara excavation project began in the early summer of 1952, directed by Seán P. Ó Ríordáin, Professor of Celtic Archaeology at University College, Dublin. In 1956, after two seasons excavation at the mound, Prof Ó Ríordáin became ill. He died in 1957. His successor, Professor Ruaidhrí de Valera completed the excavation of the Mound of the Hostages in 1959. Dr Muiris O’Sullivan completed the task of publishing the excavation Duma na nGiall - The Mound of the Hostages in 2005.


The megalithic passage tomb called the Mound of the Hostages (Duma na nGiall) is the oldest monument on the Hill of Tara, Ireland, dating back to between 2500 BCE and 3000 BCE. The mound splits into three passageways, each of which contain cremated remains. In fact, evidence of over 200 separate bodies have been found. The second image, the stone with a relief carved into it, is the doorway and protected the dead entombed there.


Images: Newgrange, Brú na Bóinne

Passage tombs:

Characteristic of the Irish Neolithic Megalithic Age. Passage tombs typically consist of a long passageway and an inner burial chamber made up of large upright stones, covered by rocks and mud. A significant feature of the passage tomb Newgrange (shown above) is that the entrance is perfectly aligned with the morning light on the winter solstice.