The 3,000-year-old skeleton of a baby has been discovered during an archeological dig in County Meath.
The remains of the baby, who died between the age of seven and ten months, were found completely intact at the site near Athboy.
The dig is part of a study of the area known as Tlachtga, or the Hill of Ward. It is believed to be a ritual site of the ancient Irish people. Tlachtga was named after the daughter of the Druid Meg Ruith. According to legend, she died on the hill while giving birth to triplets, and her remains were buried there.
The area known as Tlachtga is believed to have been used for rituals by the ancient Irish people, where they offered sacrifices to their gods. is widely considered to be the birthplace of Samhain, the ancient festival that evolved into modern-day Halloween.
Complex surveys using airborne laser and geophysical techniques have been conducted on the site, which provide evidence that it was used for ancient rituals.
Joe Conlon is a local historian in Meath, and was present at the Hill of Ward when the skeleton was discovered. He said: “It was reputed to be the site used to summon the priests, the augurs and druids of Ireland to assemble on Samhain eve to consume the sacrifices that were offered to their pagan gods.”
The dig has found evidence that the site was used for many fires which supports the theory that it was used for some form of rituals. Conlon added: “It was decreed that all fires within the kingdom on that night were to be kindled from the Fire of Tlachtga, under the penalty of fine.”
Dr Davis is the lead archaeologist at the site. He said: “We may never know what caused the death of the child. The skeleton probably dates back 3,000 years.”
It is not believed the baby was killed as some sort of sacrifice. The remains will be taken to the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin to be studied by experts.