Irish archaeologists have made an astonishing discovery. During works on a bog in Roscommon, they uncovered a huge Pagan idol that dates back over 1600 years.
An incredible 1600-year-old Pagan idol has been found in a Roscommon bog. During work on the west of Ireland morass, archaeologists discovered the 1600-year-old pre-Christian artefact.
An incredible relic of Ireland’s past, experts believe the idol could have been used to mark the site where people believed they could connect with the ‘Otherworld’.
A fascinating find – a glimpse into Ireland’s past
The incredible 1600-year-old Pagan idol was found in the townland of Gortnacrannagh in County Roscommon.
During an excavation, archaeologists uncovered the fascinating artefact just 6 km (3.7 miles) northeast of Rathcrogan.
This well-known complex of archaeological sites is believed to have been the site of Cruachan, the ancient capital of Connachta.
Some experts have suggested that the relic indicates a mythical place where pre-Christian people believed they could meet with the ‘Otherworld’.
Meanwhile, others argue that the idol would have been used in place of a human sacrifice.
Before St Patrick came to Ireland – an ancient relic
The incredible 1600-year-old Pagan idol found in the Roscommon bog predates St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.
Eve Campbell is an archaeologist with Archaeological Management Solutions (AMS), the group that directed the site’s excavation.
She said, “The Gortnacrannagh Idol was carved just over 100 years before St Patrick came to Ireland; it is likely to be the image of a pagan deity.
“Our ancestors saw wetlands as mystical places where they could connect with their gods and the Otherworld.
“The discovery of animal bone alongside a ritual dagger suggests that animal sacrifice was carried out at the site, and the idol is likely to have been part of these ceremonies.”
The incredible find gives a fascinating insight into ancient Pagan rituals and life in pre-Christian Ireland.
A fascinating wooden idol – ancient Pagan rituals
Experts believe that people sculpted the 1600-year-old Pagan idol during the Iron Age using a split oak trunk.
The intricate design displays a small human-like head and several horizontal notches along the body.
Excavations commonly uncover wooden idols in bogs throughout northern Europe. This is because the waterlogged land works to preserve the ancient wood.
Archaeologists have discovered 12 similar idols throughout Ireland. However, the Gortnacrannagh Idol is the largest of its kind to date. Measuring an immense 8 ft (2.5 m) in height, it is a truly incredible find.
Preservation efforts – working with UCD
Archaeologists have sent the idol to University College Dublin (UCD). Here, it will undergo a rigorous process to ensure its preservation.
Once the three-year-long conservation process is complete, UCD will then give the artefact to the National Museum of Ireland.
Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin of AMS said, “Since the Gortnacrannagh Idol is such a unique and significant find, we are making a replica to help us understand the idol better and appreciate how it was made.”
AMS is creating the replica as a collaboration with members of the UCC Pallasboy Project and the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture.
Once completed, it will go on display at the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in the medieval village of Tulsk.