Re-imagining Navan Fort: new light on the evolution of a major ceremonial centre in Northern Europe

James O'Driscoll, Patrick Gleeson* (Corresponding Author), Gordon Noble

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article presents major discoveries from a new campaign of large-scale multi-method geophysical survey focused on Navan Fort and its environs. Alongside a re-appraisal of excavated evidence, it presents a new model for the evolution of Navan. The large earthwork now known as Navan Fort sits alongside other iconic monuments such as Tara, Rathcroghan, Knockaulin and Cashel as one of Ireland’s so-called provincial centres. Historical texts imply that these Iron Age complexes became enduring symbols of power for early medieval societies, and royal centres for overkings. These references, alongside the incredible scale of these landscapes, has encouraged intensive research, but only recently has non-invasive survey begun adding new data and facilitating new interpretations. Prior to the present study, discussion of Navan Fort was limited to the results of small-scale but iconic excavations. These new discoveries significantly change understandings, adding spectacular new monumental phases, and facilitating re-assessment of Navan’s role within later prehistoric and medieval society, as well as the nature of ceremonial landscapes and their role in developing sacral kingship in Northern Europe.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOxford Journal of Archaeology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 May 2020


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