Friday, 5 February 2016

Rathcroghan Illustration

Rathcroghan- A Irish Iron Age Royal Site
A few months ago I had the honour of being commissioned to do the first interpretation illustration of Rathcroghan/Ráth Cruachan in Roscommon by Roscommon county council based on recent archaeological evidence from the site itself. I was generously aided in the interpretation by Joe Fenwick, who has done alot of research on the site and written about it extensively. After much bouncing around ideas and discussions and great advice from Joe, here is the interpretation of this highly important Iron Age royal/ritual site.

Id surprised if you dont know, but in case you dont, Rathcroghan is one of 6 royal sites in Ireland, which include the likes of Hill of Tara, Navan fort and Knockaulin. These sites are heavily featured in Irish mythology, with Rathcroghan being said to be the royal seat of Queen Maeve in the famous Táin Bo Cuailgne, the Cú Chulainn epic. It was also thought to be the traditional capital of the province of Connaugh/Connachta. There is many many things written about it online, which are freely available if you want to look into the site further (you should!)

The large mound at Rathcroghan is thought to have been a large structure, with many phases, and one of those phases is the one illustrated. Rathcroghan has some similarities to other royal sites and for them as well as Rathcroghan, there is some argument whether or not they were ever roofed. Some are strongly opposed, seeing the roof to have been impractical, others still stick to roofed interpretation, as there is still no definite evidence they werent roofed.

Leading to the mound there has been found to be avenues, perhaps for processional activities and beside it another large structure, which also had another avenue leading to it. Around all this was a gigantic circular embankment (if I remember correctly it was 360m in diameter), seen in the background, which may have been topped by a palisade. There was also many other features within that large enclosure and nearby, not all shown here, but you can see the ring barrows hinted at the left.  This is only a glimpse though of what the site has to offer in what is one of the most archaeological rich parts of the country.

Just to say though it is was truly an honour to try and bring this place to life, one of the most important sites in Irish archaeology and culture, I only hope my illustration does it some small justice!

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