In the west of the island, a pagan artifact was found at least 1600 years old.
The wooden figure was discovered, as is often the case, almost by accident: during exploration work before the construction of the road. The idol was recovered from a swamp in County Roscommon, about six kilometers from the prehistoric royal settlement of Ratkrogan.
The head of the work, Dr. Eve Campbell, tentatively estimated the age of the find at least 1600 years. “This is most likely a depiction of a pagan deity,” Campbell said.
The idol was created in the Iron Age from a split oak trunk. It has a small humanoid head at one end and several horizontal notches carved along the body. Its length exceeds two and a half meters. Scientists have discovered a dozen of these idols in Ireland, but the newest one is the largest to date.
In addition, the researchers found animal bones and a ritual dagger next to the wooden figure. Most likely, sacrifices were made at this place - and the idol was part of the ceremonies. There is a hypothesis that such wooden figures were used to imitate human sacrifices. Among the ancient Celts, ritual murders of people were in vogue, but over time they became less and less common. The lower ends of the idols were machined (somewhat sharpened) so that they could stand upright. The same treatment is on the lower end of the recently found idol.
Ratkrogan is a complex archaeological site in County Roscommon. It has more than 240 archaeological sites that date back to different eras: from the Neolithic (4000-2500 BC), the Irish Bronze (2500-500 BC) and the Iron Ages (500 BC - 400 AD)) to the early Middle Ages and beyond. There were found burial mounds, ring fortresses and medieval borders of fields.
It is believed that this is the place of Cruahan - the capital of the ancient Irish kingdom of Connaught. Moreover, the capital is primarily sacred. Ratkrogan is mentioned many times in early medieval manuscripts: for example, the Book of the Brown Cow (Lebor na hUidre), a 12th century manuscript - the oldest surviving text written in Irish.
From written and folklore sources, Ractrogan is known as the site of Ireland's largest fair and also one of three great pagan cemeteries. This is the scene of the early Irish epic "The Abduction of the Bull from Kualnge" - the central saga of the Ulad cycle (one of the four cycles of ancient Irish mythology). Cruahan is generally described in some detail in this cycle, because Medb, the warrior queen of Connaught, and King Ailil lived there.
Cruahan is traditionally associated with the sacred knowledge and activities of the Druids. According to legend, it is there that the gateway to the Otherworld (an important section of the mythology of Ireland) is located, and the main rituals associated with Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival, were performed there. Cruahan was considered a special place: this is evidenced by the fact that not only the kings of Connaught were buried in the city, but also the high kings of Ireland (who lived and ruled in Tara - the capital of the union of the Irish states of that time). Therefore, the finds of idols, temples, and other ceremonial evidence in these places are quite expected.