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STRAIGHT PREHISTORIC ROADS IN IRELAND

Uisneach consists of a complex of monuments covering an area of about 2 square kilometres, set on and around a low hill with three summits. The sites include enclosures and barrows, a megalithic tomb and two ancient roads, Uisneach has been identified as the centre or umbilicus of Ireland and as an important ceremonial and royal site, ranking it alongside the better known Tara, or Hill of Kings. It was traditionally the location of a major celebration of Beltaine and a sacred ash tree, associated with the inauguration of kings is reputed to have once stood at the site. However the site has received little attention since intensive archaeological investigation in the 1920s. The evidence suggests a continuous occupation in some form from the Neolithic through to the medieval period. One interesting feature of the site is a roadway, approximately 6m wide and flanked by a bank and ditch on both sides. It runs northwards to the southernmost edge of the site for a distance of 500m. It was originally identified as medieval but may belong to the late prehistoric phase of activity on the site. The straight road is similar in structure to the Neolithic cursus monument on the Hill of Tara and may have been reused in the Iron Age to provide ceremonial access to the hilltop ceremonial sites. During the 1920s excavations a very extensive area of intense burning was found on the southern side of the enclosure, directly in line with the road.

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