Archaeologists have spent the better far of five years researching a historical site in Northern Ireland. The Navan Fort is one of the most important sites worldwide, being one of the main tourist attractions in Ulster. It’s here that the Irish Kingdom of Ulaid thrived for hundreds of years. Little information is known on how these people thrived in the harsh conditions, with recent studies indicating that pork was roasted regularly. Migration data noted that tribes in Ireland travelled north yearly for a significant feast. This study was completed by uncovering evidence on 36 pig remains.
Excavations in the Kingdom of Ulaid began in late 2015, where it was revealed that this kingdom thrived during the Iron Age of Ireland. It was a site of significant ritual important, with human remains being gifted with various items for the other side. This new study shows that citizens of ancient Ireland visited this site with their livestock, offering it to the feast and those Nordic Chiefs higher ranked than themselves.
The most recent studies were held by Cardiff University in Wales, with Richard Madgwick taking on the role of Head Archeologist for the excavation. He noted that this study proves that Iron Age Ireland was mobile, moving at distances greater than anyone had thought before this study. The group of archaeologists used chemical signature technologies to identify the remaining particles of food leftover in these carcasses. These signatures showed that the human remains had animal meat preserved in their enamel. Scottish and Irish Pigs were identified in these signatures as isotopes. This has led to additional questions on if the two countries engaged in trading via the sea.
The pigs remain found in this location are incredibly rare for the Iron Age. Navan Fort wasn’t just a spiritual centre for the ancient people of Ireland, but also a feasting site. Irish literature from this period confirms that pork was the preferred food for chiefs and high-level officials. Its influence was wide-reaching, expanding to Scotland. The isotopes found in these pig remains have a direct correlation to new bodies found at Stonehenge, indicating that England was connected to Scotland and Ireland. Subsequently, the evidence appears to portray a picture of an Ancient United Kingdom.
It should be noted that transporting these animals throughout the Iron Age period was incredibly challenging. It would’ve involved significant efforts to ensure the purity of the meat and would have taken a substantial amount of time. That is why this evidence from the Cardiff University study is drastically essential.