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Hill Of Slane

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Ruins on the Hill of Slane.
To the north of the village rises the Hill of Slane, which stands 158 metres (518 ft) above the surroundings. Such a commanding site could never have been ignored, and consequently there are a number of historic sites located around the top of the hill. In the Metrical Dindshenchas, a collection of bardic verse, the ancient Fir Bolg king Sláine mac Dela was said to have been buried here, in the place that had been called Druim Fuar that came to be known in his memory Dumha Sláine. There is an artificial mound on the western end of the hilltop.

The hill may have been chosen as the site of Christian abbey due to the presence of an existing pagan shrine, the remains of which may be two standing stones in the burial yard. Muirchu moccu Machtheni, in his highly mythologised seventh century Life of Patrick, says that St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hill top in A.D. 433 in defiance of the High King Laoire who forbid any other fires while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara. Historians and archaeologists agree that Muirchu has moved to Slane a fire lit elsewhere; The Hill of Slane can be seen from the Hill of Tara which is about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) away.According to Muirchu, Logaire was so impressed by Patrick's devotion that, despite his defiance (or perhaps because of it), he let him continue his missionary work in Ireland. It is somewhat more certain that Patrick appointed a bishop of Slane, Saint Erc.
 
The cemetery and Chilean pine tree on the Hill of Slane.
The Hill of Slane remained a centre of religion and learning for many centuries after St. Patrick. The ruins of a friary church and college can be seen on the top of the hill. It is known that Slane Friary was restored in 1512. The ruins include a 19-metre (62 ft) high early gothic tower. The friary was abandoned in 1723. The traditional Christian hymn Be Thou My Vision is set to an early medieval Irish folk song named Slane which is about the Hill of Slane.

On the west side of the hill there are the remains of a twelfth-century Norman motte and bailey, built by Richard Fleming in the 1170s. This was the seat of the Flemings of Slane, barons of Slane. The Flemings moved to a castle on the left bank of the River Boyne, the current location of Slane Castle. The Flemings were lords of Slane from the twelfth century until seventeenth century, when the Conyngham family replaced them as lords of Slane during the Williamite Confiscations

More in this category: « Hill Of Tara Bective Abbey »

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