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Rathcroghan – The Guidebook 2nd Edition

New Edition 2023 now available to order.

This second edition of the Rathcroghan Guidebook contains updated and new imagery and text alongside entries on every aspect of Rathcroghan, from its archaeological and historical landscapes, through to its literary and mythological associations. This publication is the quintessential user’s guide to this fascinating archaeological landscape. Drawing upon historical, literary and cutting-edge archaeological research, Rathcroghan: The Guidebook is designed to bring the reader on a journey through time at Rathcroghan, from the first settlers to this broad limestone plain in the Neolithic period, through to the political mechanics of late medieval Machaire Connacht.

Thereafter, you will be taken on a journey of a different kind. You will see how our ancestors wove a tapestry of literature on top of this canvas of Rathcroghan, connecting physical landmarks and ancestor burials with the intoxicating narrative of Queen Medb of Connacht and the Ulster Cycle of Tales, filled with war and strife, jealousy and intrigue, gods and mere mortals.

Rathcroghan Archaeological Trail

Rathcroghan Archaeological Trail


This driving tour has been designed for the visitor to Rathcroghan to be able to experience a selection of the great number of monuments on the landscape here in your own time and at your own pace. This unique environment has been interacted with for over 6,000 years, beginning in the Neolithic, and continuing to be used in different forms up until the late medieval period at least.

The monuments here fall into a range of categories, from burial and funerary monuments, to settlement sites and field boundaries. Aside from these, monuments such as Rathcroghan Mound and the cave of Oweynagat give us an insight into the minds of the people who constructed and used these monuments.

Viewing this archaeological landscape in association with the huge corpus of medieval Irish literature that refers to Cruachan Aí and, in particular, the cast of characters that we encounter in the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) allows us to gain an understanding of the lives and beliefs of the Iron Age and early historic Irish.

An Táin T-Shirt


Beautiful, bespoke adult T-shirt depicting ‘An Táin Bó Cuailnge’ (the Cattle Raid of Cooley)

T-shirt Back

T-Shirt Front

Roscommon County Print


Rathcroghan Prints – Roscommon County

Produced by Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in collaboration with Prints of Ireland, this unique bespoke print (30 x 42cm), depicts Roscommon through a range of historical and cultural landmarks situated throughout the county.
The map includes representations of – the Arigna Mines, Lough Key, Boyle Abbey, Elphin Windmill, Dr. Douglas Hyde, a Gallowglass Warrior, Rathcroghan Royal Site, Strokestown Park House, the Coggalbeg Hoard, Clonalis House, Ballintober Castle, Roscommon Castle, the Castlestrange Stone, the Claypipe Centre – Knockcroghery, Rindoon Castle, Ballyforan Bridge, Meehambee Portal Tomb, the Knock Gold Torcs and Shannonbridge, Co. Roscommon.

(Please note that all prints are supplied unframed)

Oweynagat Cave Print


Rathcroghan Prints – Oweynagat Cave

Produced by Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in collaboration with Prints of Ireland, this unique bespoke print (30 x 42cm), depicts the Cave of Oweynagat – Uaimh na gCat, Ireland’s Otherworldly entrance in Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon.

(Please note that all prints are supplied unframed)

Ráth Cruachan Print


Rathcroghan Prints – Ráth Cruachan

Produced by Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in collaboration with Prints of Ireland, this unique bespoke print (30 x 42cm), depicts the Royal Site of Rathcroghan through representations of Rathcroghan Mound, King Dathí’s Stone and the mythical Battle of the Bulls, Finnbennach and Donn Cuailnge at Rathnadarve – Ráth na dTarbh.

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PAGAN IRELAND, Ritual and Belief in Another World – John Waddell


Archaeologists frequently come across puzzling evidence for ritual activity and Pagan Ireland looks at some of these discoveries. This is a survey of the many rituals and beliefs that were vitally important elements of life in ancient Ireland over several thousand years from at least 4000 BC. Driven by a very human desire to make sense of the world and transform their lives, people created sacred spaces and monuments to facilitate communication with the gods and with ancestral figures. A multiplicity of sacred phenomena were a part of everyday experience, with landscapes and objects often holding unworldly meaning.

Written for a general readership, this wide-ranging study draws on archaeological evidence and on what is known about ritual practices in other cultures to address the difficult question of what beliefs might lie behind certain ritual activities. Sometimes it is possible to make a plausible guess as to what these may have been. A circle of stones was more than just a way of marking a sacred space, the round plan was an expression of a belief in a circular, cyclical cosmos as witnessed in the path of the sun and the fixed stars, and in the rhythm of the year.

Sun worship is recorded throughout prehistory and is apparent not just at famous sites like Newgrange but in imagery in gold and bronze at a later date. The great disc of the sun travelled across the daytime sky and at night was believed to descend beneath the earth in the west, traversing a mysterious underworld, to rise again in the east.

Funerary ceremonies, solar symbolism, magical metalworking, an enduring belief in the cosmic circle, fertility rites, idol worship and much more were all a part of a great pagan tapestry. Veneration of the old gods survived well into Christian times.

John Waddell, formerly Professor of Archaeology in the University of Galway, has written extensively on Irish archaeology. His work on Rathcroghan, a place like Tara that is rich in myth and legend, inspired his interest in Celtic mythology and publications like Archaeology and Celtic Myth (2014).

Rathcroghan: Archaeological & Geophysical Survey In A Ritual Landscape

Rathcroghan: Archaeological & Geophysical Survey In A Ritual Landscape


Rathcroghan (Crúachain) is often referred to as both a ‘Celtic’ Royal Settlement and a sacred burial place; it is one of several major royal sites in ancient Ireland, such as Tara, Co. Meath, Knockaulin, Co. Kildare, and Navan Fort near Armagh, that are frequently mentioned in early literature.

While these sites had special importance in early historic times, and in some cases bore and extraordinary weight of myth and legend, we now know that they are older archaeological assemblages of impressive complexity and size.

This book is the result of a major programme of archaeological field research at Rathcroghan in County Roscommon in the West of Ireland. The project involved the use of a range of geophysical techniques to explore a number of extraordinary monuments in the Royal Site.

Archaeology and Celtic Myth – John Waddell


In this book John Waddell contends that elements of pre-Christian Celtic myth preserved in medieval Irish literature shed light on older traditions and beliefs not just in Ireland but elsewhere in Europe as well. He mainly focuses on aspects of the mythology associated with four well-known Irish archaeological landscapes: Newgrange and the Boyne Valley, the royal sites of Rathcroghan in Co. Roscommon, Navan in Co. Armagh, and Tara in Co. Meath. Their mythological associations permit the pursuit of the archaeological implications of several mythic themes, namely sacral kingship, a sovereignty goddess, solar cosmology and the perception of an Otherworld.