Exploring the archaeology, landscape and history of Slane, Co. Meath

The Site

Map of the main features on the Hill of Slane

Map of the main features on the Hill of Slane

A range of features are present on the Hill of Slane which vary in date from the 16th century back into prehistoric times.

The most obvious features that the visitor encounters first when walking from the car park on the eastern shoulder of the hill are the graveyard, St. Patrick’s Church and the College. These are largely late medieval buildings and it is known that several phases of construction and remodelling took place from a combination of close examination of their stonework and documentary research. The College is owned and managed by the Office of Public Works who also own the plot of land which extends as far as the car park. The graveyard is owned by Meath County Council and burials still occasionally take place in the graveyard today. We know from the annals that a very important monastery existed on the Hill of Slane from the sixth century until the eleventh or twelfth century, although little trace of this remains today.

At the western end of the hill on land inaccessible to the public there are further monuments, some of which are quite substantial, but are only rarely noticed by visitors because of the dense tree cover in this area. The dominant feature is a large motte or mound surrounded by a deep wide ditch which stands within another, probably earlier, enclosure consisting of an earthen inner bank and outer ditch. To the southeast of the motte there is a further low monument which appears to be a low flat-topped mound or enclosure which may be the remains of a substantial prehistoric barrow. These features are visible in the lidar images of the site and also in some of the aerial photography although the dense tree cover caused significant problems in obtaining clear images of these features.