What did happen to the those who lived at the time of the Grianan of Aileach ? And what roles did they play? Were they Druids and Magicians, Princes and Warriors.perhaps? The very Elite of Society? According to Ptolemy’s 2nd century map of the world, from the 5th to 12th century AD, Aileach served as the royal seat of the Ui Neill dynasty.which extended from Tyrone to Donegal. Its listed as being destroyed in 1101 by Murtagh O’Brien. He ordered many of the stones removed so as to reduce the royal cashel to ruins.. It was re-built sometime in the 19th century based on the pattern of the stones left standing based on the design of other ring-forts all over Ireland.
Why did the Irish build Grianan of Aileach in the first place? It may have been for Pagan Rituals, perhaps even Sacrificing or it may have been an observatory to watch the stars. I prefer to think it was a type of ancient castle, a base for the Royal Elite.
In my novel, ‘The Sun Palace‘ I’ve chosen Grianan of Aileah as the setting. Thebook is a coming of age story with druids and early Christian monks. I’ve created a fictional world inside in which I have, enlarged the great ring fort to include an exquisite dining hall and colorful tents where the royalty of the Tribe of Niall live.
Grianan of Aileach in County Donegal, Ireland was also called, ‘The Stone Palace of the Sun.’ or ‘The Sun Palace. You can see why by the photo above. The hill of Greanan where the ring-fort sits, is very steep, covered with thick patches of thorny gorse which punctuates the air with a tangy sweetness. There are three terraced walls which are linked by steps. The outside wall is 17 ft. high. The outer wall is flat and just wide enough for men to strand guard, completely surrounding the ring fort shoulder to shoulder, viewing 360 degrees across Lough Swilly, Lough Foyle and the Innishowen Peninsula. From the 5th to the 12th century it is claimed to have been the royal seat of the Ui Neill dynasty and sits on a summit of over 800 feet high. There is a real Sacred Well which flows underground situated about halfway up the Hill of Greanan which certainly adds to the mysticism of the area and where else but In Ireland would one find such a place?
The well above, (photo by Donald Paquin) actually flows underground right in the middle of the hill, below Aileach. As you can see its not very deep and has a strange color to it which must have lent itself to some outrageous stories by the pagan Irish.