The Mound of the Hostages, Duma na nGiall, is one of the most prominent monuments among the concentration of prehistoric sites on the Hill of Tara. The megalithic passage tomb also called Duma na nGiall is the oldest monument on the Hill of Tara dating back to between 2500 B.C. and 3000 B.C.
The passage, 4m in length and 1m wide, was subdivided by sillstones into three compartments each containing cremated remains. A wonderfully decorated stone can be viewed from the entrance gate.
The engravings may represent the sun, moon or stars as religious symbols or maybe the stone was used as a prehistoric calendar.
The covering of the Mound is showing signs of significant degradation which, “has begun to increase as a result of the very inclement weather over the last few years”.
The minister in charge of the work Jimmiy Deenihan, said that a non-invasive geophysical survey had already been completed which will now be followed by investigative archaeological excavations that will be overseen by his Department and the Office of Public Works. “The excavations will continue throughout November 2011 and the results will feed into a detailed conservation and management plan for the Mound” added the Minister.
The Minister confirmed that that it would be necessary to fence off the Mound for the duration of the works in order to facilitate the investigations and in the interests of safety. “Unfortunately there will have to be restrictions on access to the Mound itself but the rest of the Hill will not be affected”, he said.
Mr Deenihan added that, apart from being a huge attraction for tourists in County Meath and the Boyne Valley area “the Hill of Tara contains some our most important national monuments which we must take special care of to ensure that they are preserved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate”.