Rathcroghan (Irish: Ráth Cruachan, meaning "fort of Cruachan") is a complex of archaeological sites near Tulsk in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is identified as the site of Cruachan, the traditional capital of the Connachta, a term used to describe the prehistoric and early historic rulers of the western territory. The Rathcroghan Complex (Crúachan Aí) is a unique archaeological landscape with many references found in early Irish medieval manuscripts.
Located on the plains of Connacht (Mag nAí/Machaire Connacht), Rathcroghan is one of the six Royal Sites of Ireland. This landscape which extends over six square kilometres, consists of 240 plus archaeological sites, sixty of which are protected national monuments.
These monuments range from the Neolithic (4000 - 2500 BC), through the Bronze (2500 - 500 BC) and Iron Age (500 BC - 400 AD), to the early medieval period and beyond. These monuments include burial mounds, ringforts and medieval field boundaries amongst others. The most fascinating of these are the multi period Rathcroghan Mound, the mysterious cave of Oweynagat, the Mucklaghs - a spectacular set of linear earthworks, as well as the Carns medieval complex.
There are many interesting historic references to Rathcroghan (Ráth Crúachan) recorded in early medieval manuscripts, including the 12th century Lebor na hUidre. Rathcroghan is recorded as the location of one of the great fairs of Ireland, as well as being one of the island's three great heathen cemeteries. It is also the location for the beginning and end of a national epic tale – an Táin Bó Cuailnge, and the royal seat of Medb (Maeve), Connacht's Warrior Queen.
Uniquely, Rathcroghan possesses an entrance to the Otherworld, described in the medieval period as "Ireland's Gate to Hell", located at Oweynagat (the Cave of the Cats). The cave has associations with the pagan festival of Samhain, Halloween, as well as being described as the "fit abode" of Morrigan, a Celtic Goddess of pre-Christian Ireland.
The White Tree of Gondor stood as a symbol of Gondor in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith. Its predecessor was a seedling of Nimloth planted in Minas Ithil, that was destroyed before the end of the Second Age.
The White Tree also appears in the Livery of Elendil, as a motif upon Gondor's flag.
The first White Tree of Gondor came from a fruit that Isildur, at great personal risk, managed to steal from Nimloth the Fair, the White Tree of Númenor, before that one was destroyed at Sauron's insistence. He suffered many wounds at this mission, and he came near death, but when the first leaf opened in the spring, Isildur was healed of his wounds.
This sapling was brought to Middle-earth on Isildur's ship, and it was eventually planted in Minas Ithil before his house. But when Sauron returned to Middle-earth, he launched a sudden attack in S.A. 3429 that captured Minas Ithil, and he burned the White Tree. Isildur escaped taking with him again a sapling.
Telperion was the elder of the Two Trees, and bloomed during the first part of the Valian day, followed by Laurelin. It endured throughout the Years of the Trees, but came to an end in the dreadful Darkening of Valinor.
However one of Telperion's flowers survived the Darkening, and was set aloft by the Valar; this was the light of the Moon, carried by Tilion the Maia
Telperion comes from telepi "silver". The exact etymology of the ending -rion is not entirely clear, but it can mean something like "great wreathed one" (Cf. ría, rielle).
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