Pictured here is the summit of the Hill of Tara in County Meath.
Meath is traditionally known in Ireland as the Royal County, as it was here on Tara that the High Kings of Ireland sat.
The site itself dates back over 5000 years to the Neolithic period with numerous monuments and buildings from this era being excavated. Much of the area still remains unexplored, which helps add to the mystery of this place. I have on occasion come across modern pagans performing ceremonies at this place.
The hilltop that we see here in this shot is an iron age hilltop enclosure 646 feet high. It measures 1043 feet north to south and 866 feet east to west. It is enclosed by a ditch and a large external bank. This hilltop is known as the Forradh (meaning Royal Seat).
The phallic stone pictured here is a fertility symbol, and is believed to be the Lia Fail, a stone of Irish legends. It is said that if a series of challenges were completed by any would be King, the stone would let out a scream. At the touch of this King the stone would screech so loudly that it would be heard across the entire country.
Close to this hilltop, there is also a mound known as the Mound of the Hostages. This is a Neolithic passage tomb dating back to approx. 3400 BC. It is known by its current name as hostages would often be taken by the High King of Ireland, normally family members of competing chieftains, and they would be imprisoned in this mound. The imprisonment of family like this meant respect from those who might compete for the title.
In addition to these mounds, the site is also known for several other ringforts such as the Ráith na Seanadh which has on excavation given forth Roman artifacts dating back to the 1st century, as well as Ráith Laoghaire, Rath Maeve, and Grainne's Fort.
The importance and level of usage of the Hill of Tara is something that is much discussed and debated. While it is known that the site has been used by people for over 5000 years, it is not known if it was continuously in use between the Neolithic and the 12th century.
An 11th century manuscript known as the Book of Invasions speaks of the hill as the seat of high kings from times in deepest darkest history, when Ireland was home to the mythological Fir Bolg as well as the Tuatha De Danaan, people who occupied the island before the Celts.
It is believed that the exposed elevated site could not have been a place of continuous year round occupation, and was more likely a symbolic meeting place. Even the name The High King of Ireland is somewhat romantic, as the king here at Tara himself would never have ruled the entire country. It is possible his rule extended only to the center of the country, or at most the northern half. A true high kingship of all Ireland was not properly established until the rule of Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid in the 9th century.
Whatever the actual permanent ruling or living conditions here, it is obvious that this place has always had significant royal and religious functions, but the religious side has faded since St Patrick brought Christianity to the country.
The mound of the hostages has a short passage which is aligned with sunrise on the solar cross-quarter-days, which fall at the midpoints between the solstices and equinoxes. Its light effects on these days somewhat resemble those of its far more well known neighbor at Newgrange, but unlike Newgrange whose amazing displays fall on the winter Solstice, this mound displays its Neolithic magic on the ancient Celtic festivals of Samhain and Imbolc which mark the beginning of Autumn and Spring.
It is a magical (and cold) place on a December morning.
thanks for looking!
Critiques | Translate
willperrett (11658) 2013-12-15 9:41
Good sky! And it was needed to balance the brooding monoliths below. I think I might have tried to lift the light slightly on the bottom half of the photograph (in the old darkroom days, we'd have been dodging the land and burning in the sky) but I have to admit that it certainly creates a sense of mystery.
photoray (13981) 2013-12-15 10:16
Intriguing and magical scene with the Lia Fail stone centered, surrounded by geometric stone circles, and topped with a sun breaking through the deep clouds.
One can imagine the historical ceremonies and ancient past radiating from this spot.
Well done, including the historical information,
carlo62 (53216) 2013-12-15 14:29
bella condivisione, la nota è molto interessante e accompagna perfettamente la tua foto.
Hai ripreso perfettamente il clima mistico di questa collina, un clima che arriva da molto lontano e che ha accompagnato al vita di molti uomini.
Sonata11 (33971) 2013-12-15 18:07
lovely composition of interesting place and great POV, superb sharpness, fine details, splendid light and wonderful colors, very well done.
All the best, Barbara
SnapRJW (31629) 2013-12-15 21:09
Hello Noel - There is some super detail in the sky and I like the reflected light bouncing off the circular pavement around the fertility symbol. I do find the circular bright area in the sky a bit distracting but the mood here is good. Another fascinating Irish landscape. Warm regards Rosemary
Subhogen (4067) 2013-12-15 21:37
An excellent photo of the fertility stone in the backdrop of the dramatic sky. Nice natural colors and well managed light.
An intriguing place very well described by your elaborate note.
What intrigues me more is that this stone looks so much like the Shiva Lingam, which is the most widely accepted symbol of Lord Shiva in Hinduism and is a sign energy and potentiality.
A superb presentation which shares so much to learn about this interesting place. Thanks for sharing.
delpeoples (59430) 2013-12-15 21:58
Dia duit dear Noel
Well you couldn't be accused of not getting into the spirit of things, with all the er...phalli that have been posted lately (JJ and Jason I'm looking at you!). So this one is perfect. A very moody shot, I like the play of light and shade, and a photo where I reckon a grey-grad filter would have helped you a lot with lightening up the foreground and keeping that beautiful dark moody sky. If I knew how to do Layers better I'd have a crack at it in PP. Actually, I'll have a crack anyway. But back to your photo, it's superbly composed in the vertical frame with excellent balance including the 2 standing stones. And your excellent note about it being a fertility symbol makes me imagine all those pagans dancing around in their goatskins and antlers over the 5,000 years of its existence. Given the time of year you took this, I hope you had a little more gear on than that and didn't freeze your bits off :)
PS: Hope it's ok to add this great shot to my Theme on Celtic Standing Stone & Dolmens?
Royaldevon (41770) 2013-12-16 1:52
An intriguing shot, and it would be from such an ancient site! My immediate instinct was to lighten the area around the stone, to counterbalance the sky and, perhaps, add a little more 'mood'.
I have to admit, though, that this shot caught my attention and there is definitely a very spiritual atmosphere.
I like the way you have included the second stone (gravestone) which helps to create the sense of depth and off-sets the centrally placed monolith.
Have a great week,
mesutilgim (96718) 2013-12-16 3:22
Hello dear Noel,
Very nice capture under a majestic and mysterious sky.
Perfect TE entry entiched with many interesting notes.
TFS and best regards
jhm (157854) 2013-12-16 4:29
We live almost in the same climate, Belgium and Scotland are on world at the same global level.
Thank you very much for your interesting note too.
Excellent perspective and depth picture.
Lovely composition, splendid presentation.
Very well done, TFS.
Have a nice week,
mirosu (16273) 2013-12-16 4:50
Superb interesting introductory note, many thanks. You have captured these monuments in excellent low light, thus creating superb contrast against beautiful bright sky. The framing in vertical format is an excellent option. Well done.
aleXundar (1256) 2013-12-16 7:05
What a location, and what a sky! The Master of Moods strikes again.
The stone 'Lingum' against a dramatic sky looks really mysterious. I like your intentional half-silhouette treatment in low-light.
jcpix (13930) 2013-12-16 18:31
Must..fight..the..urge..to be..vulgar....so, is this a historical site and remnant, or are you just happy to see me? :o Sorry, I tried...but just can't seem to stop myself sometimes!? Now this is something a T-rex could get its hands around! hehe That's some kind of fertility symbol alright, I think most people just have something that can be placed on a fireplace mantle at home. A bit intimidating, don't ya' think? Great conversation starter though...put that in the middle of the living room and see what happens! Would sure make for a fascinating sun dial as well.
What an extensive and well informed note, quite an interesting history to say the least. I certainly would never have gleaned so much detail without it, to which it certainly adds to the aura and intrigue of this photo. Fantastic light around the base of this stone, illuminating the circular formation of the pavers with a purpleish tint.
A tough balance of exposure, and although the bottom half is a bit on the darker side, I prefer the more colorful and brighter sky as there's a sense of mystery to the foreground. Smart arrangement too, separating the elements and creating distance.
At least this won't shrink in size due to the cold weather! O.K., no more...I'll stop now. :)
Really sweet shot, history and nature combine well!
Have a great day ahead. Take it easy.
Cheers from demented side,
fabbs99 (17175) 2013-12-16 19:20
Nice shot in the low evening lights.Good sharpness and tight framing.Well captured.TFS.
omid266 (6748) 2013-12-16 19:33
Hi , Salam dear Noel ,
very nice , well done friend !
Fortunately in this times , you upload some nice pictures
from Museum , Christmas , Ices ,...
Thanks for sharing also Thanks for your
helpful notes ,
Best Wishes & Prayers . ****
** LET PEACE And LOVE PREVAIL IN THE WORLD ! ***
Omid from I.R.I
danos (101766) 2013-12-17 2:46
very nice the cloudy sky over the the summit of the Hill of Tara,with the columns to dominating the place.The light and the colour management are unique as makes the place very intrigue,with the note to be very informative as ever.
Fis2 (103874) 2013-12-17 6:36
Curious light and colors.
Photo has climate.
Romano46 (18472) 2013-12-17 9:56
in tempi recenti sempre più spesso proponi immagini di alta suggestione come questa nelle quali, più che il soggetto è la luce la vera protagonista.
In questa il cielo è un vero spettacolo con le sue diverse sfumature e si addice a perfezione a questo soggetto che esige un'atmosfera drammatica.
Particolare ed azzeccato il riflesso sul selciato che appare come scolpito evidenziando il monolite posto al suo centro.
Splendide ed esaurientissime le note che forniscono tantissime informazioni.
Ciao e buona serata
nikkitta (17068) 2013-12-17 17:05
Incredible, but diferent places and peoples are in a way conected, the moment I saw it, I think in the Shive Lingam and then read your note and comment from Subho, or would have the phalic sign the same meaning in all civilations? Possible and probable
Like light and composition and what catches more my atention is the reflets round the first stone
Also light of the stormy sky reminds me some Van Goth pictures
Great captura, interesting note
Silvio1953 (150199) 2013-12-18 6:17
Ciao Noel, fascinating winter composition with fantastic sky, wonderful warm colors and splendid light, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
ourania (49799) 2013-12-20 9:39
a very fine photo that presents us this magical, ancient place in an enchanting way. The phrase "from times in deepest, darkest history" from your note echoes so intriguingly while we're viewing this unusual site. Images from the legends and discoveries you mention dance around in the dark landscape, the dramatic sky enhances the fascination of the place and increases our wonder. The view is comprehensive, in spite of the challenging lighting conditions. There's superb detail in the sky as well. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great evening,
abmdsudi (57160) 2013-12-20 22:28
It is well worth exploring must be a great place to shoot if the weather is right and i can only imagine when you are presented with the open green setting in the middle of a vast field with sheep grazing!! Great stuff under low light with sufficient amount of details just to click the eye dragging into main interest. Can't get enough of those BIG standing stones. The framing, pov and processing show off these structures to great effect. Also, I really like the write-up - it must be fascinating, Great.
elenimavrandoni (0) 2014-06-12 18:31
Noel, a picture taken in December in the heart of the winter and yet there is a warm light falling over the glorious ruins to give life, to remind of their existence, to highlight their importance in history..
your note accompanied by your extraordinary note is a piece of art!!
Lefteris13 (300) 2014-07-21 10:35
- Copyright: Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) (33054)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2013-12-15
- Categories: Daily Life, Festivals, Ceremony, Ruins
- Camera: Canon EOS 60D
- Exposure: f/16, 1/250 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
- Theme(s): Celtic Standing Stones, Dolmens, Ruins [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2013-12-15 9:16