Site of the first Halloween Bonfire? Hill of Ward aka Tlachtga

During a three year archaeological dig at the Hill - ending 2016 - they found evidence of intense burning, likely to have been caused by a huge bonfire dating to around AD 500.

Dr Steve Davis of University College Dublin, part of the team of archaeologists working on the Hill of Ward, said: “This is a massive ceremonial enclosure. The location of it is striking with nearly 360 degree views around it, right in the heart of a major monumental landscape.”

A local family and the local community usually organised a Samhain Festival at the site for no financial gain and open to all.

This became popular, with several thousand attending, and thus the possibility for a larger, more commercial and theatrical event arose, and the organisation was taken over by Meath Council and other interested parties.

Hill of Ward - aka Tlachtga

Tlachtga, nr Athboy, in Co. Meath is about 12 miles from the Hill of Tara, which is easily picked out near the horizon and vice versa.

Named after a legendary goddes, this is the location of the birth of Tlachtga's three sons (Dorb, Cuma and Muacth) and where she died and is buried.

It is believed that over 3000 years ago the site of the Great Fire Festival began after dusk around 31st October.

It was a time of remembrance for the ancestors and those recently passed. It is said that the renewal fire for the year would be lit at Tlachtga, and being visible for miles around, especially Tara, and would herald the start of the celebrations.

A general article by the BBC can be read here - Hill of Ward: Did Halloween begin on 'magical' ancient site?