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Hello and welcome to this week’s virtual walk.

Today we head north to County Armagh for a walk to visit the ancient Navan Fort. You will need to bring your hiking boots today as we have quite a bit of ground to cover. At least the weather is dry so we don’t have to worry about raingear !

The Navan fort ( not to be confused with the town of Navan in County Meath ) is in fact named from the old Irish Emain Macha and it’s an ancient ceremonial monument.
We park the car and head into the visitor centre to learn a little more about this ancient place before we head out to see it .

The visitor centre is really well designed, it’s almost cut into the hillside and in here we can learn about the significance of the place and see many artefacts and treasures that have been uncovered during archaeological excavations.

This sets the scene for us . Emain Macha is one of the great Royal sites of Pre Christian Ireland , and the Capital of the province of Ulaidh. It’s a large circular hilltop enclosure marked by a bank and ditch and once upon a time the top of the mound was covered in buildings including a ceremonial round house that is likened to a temple.

The fort features prominently in Irish mythology especially in the tales of the Ulster Cycle and what we will see is a mixture of myths, legend, ritual and ancient civilisation .

Righto , lets head out there … it’s going to take us some 20 minute to reach the top.  The path is well paved and the first part runs through pretty woodlands. After a while there is a clearing where a round house has been recreated so that we can understand a little more how these ancient people lived.

We then cross the road to gain access to the hilltop.  The road is in fact an ancient pilgrim path  proving that knowledge of this sacred pace dates back millennia.
Through the kissing gate and up the hill, luckily there are some steps to ease the journey.
Take a look at the blackberries and crab apples in bloom . I wonder did the ancient settlers treat themselves to this same bounty of Nature ??

After a few minutes hard climb we reach the top. Disappointingly there is nothing to see as the site was thoroughly excavated some years ago and all artefacts are in the visitor centre.
Never mind though  I think that we can get an understanding of how this place was a vantage point and natural fortress and in our minds eye we can picture the great hall and ceremonies that took place in this sacred site.

Let’s head back and re trace our steps. I think that you will be glad to take a stop and rest your legs at one of the many benches along the route – someone smart thought if this in advance !! While we rest our weary legs we can listen to the songbirds and catch a glimpse of an occasional squirrel before we head back to the visitor centre.
I’m going to take a quick peek back inside the museum part again as it all makes better sense having walked to the top of the fort and I am even more impressed and have a better understanding of its significance and role in Irish mythology so many years ago.

Let’s stop for a refreshing cup of tea and a scone in the tearooms before we hit the road to head home.
I hope that you enjoyed today’s walk, and take care until next time.

You can see all my photos from our walk over on my facebook page – stephenwalshconnemaramarble

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