Through the annals of time, this land has defiantly weathered the storms of history, bearing witness to countless battles and upheavals, yet its timeless scenery remains steadfast and unaltered.
Check out these seven ancient Celtic sites that you can visit across Northern Ireland:
1. Beaghmore Stone Circles, Blackrock Road, Cookstown,
Nestled among the heather west of Cookstown, Beaghmore (‘big place of birch trees’) was once an area of dense woodland before being cleared by Neolithic farmers. Only discovered by peat cutters in the 1930s, deposits of flint tools and hearths have been dated to at least 2900-2600 BC.
If you look closely at some stones, what may appear at first as ancient chisel marks bear a striking resemblance to the oldest known form of Celtic writing, Ogham; a sacred form of writing that was supposedly used for magic and divination.
Some archaeologists believe that the circles were constructed in relation to the midsummer sunrise, or to record the movements of the sun and moon acting as markers in a calendar to identify certain solar or lunar phases. Photo: DiscoverNI
2. Navan Fort, Killylea Road, Armagh
To the west of Armagh city lies one of the great royal sites of pre-Christian Ireland, as well as the headquarters of the Ulaid kingdom that covered much of Ulster.
The ancient ‘Emain Macha’ of Irish history consists of a large earthwork on top of a drumlin and is thought to have been the site of a pagan sanctuary. In early Irish mythological tales, Emain also served as the base for the Red Branch Knights, the mythological warriors of Ulster.
Once you visit, your guide will carefully explain how and why the sprawling ceremonial capital was built, as you immerse yourself in Iron Age life, and hear stories of past triumphs, weaving, cooking, or preparing weapons for battle. Photo: Discover NI
3. Slieve Gullion, Drumintee Road, Killeavy.
Atop the highest mountain in County Armagh lie two burial cairns on either side of a small lake. The southern one is the highest passage tomb in Ireland, 30 metres wide and 5 metres tall.
The chamber inside, almost four metres wide, contained three large stone blocks, seemingly used as basins, along with some pieces of worked flint and a barbed-end arrowhead - the last remnants of tomb-robbers. The smaller cairn, north of the lake, contains two cist burials, with one containing fragments of burned bone; possibly belonging to a single adult.
Irish folklore holds that a curse will descend upon anyone who damages or disrespects the tomb - indeed, a company of American soldiers training on the mountain during World War II had disturbed the ruins. Photo: Discover NI
4. Boa Island, Fermanagh
Located in the middle of Lower Lough Erne, some 16 miles from Enniskillen, the island is named after the Celtic goddess of war, Badhbh, who sometimes assumed the form of a carrion crow.
The central Caldragh graveyard contains two anthropomorphic carved stone statues, both of which have been dated back to at least 400-800 AD. The larger of the figures is widely regarded as one of the most enigmatic stone figures in Ireland. While not quite a representation of the two-faced Roman god Janus - as many have assumed - in Celtic culture, heads were especially revered as they were thought to contain a person’s spirit after their death.
An indentation at the top, while it is not known how it was created, is used by tourists, who frequently place small mementoes in it for luck. Photo: Discover NI