Lugg Woods

The area around Lugg Woods was of real importance during prehistory, and evidence for this can be seen in the number of prehistoric burial monuments in the immediate area. The majority of these monuments are classified as barrows. Barrows were the predominant funerary monuments in prehistory, and the burials placed in them were typically cremations. Though some barrows have been dated as far back as the earlier Neolithic period, they more typically date to the Bronze Age and Iron Age.  No less than four barrows have been recorded in the townland of Lugg, demonstrating the importance of this area in prehistory.

Lugg Woods Ring barrow complex from the air. Photo Credit: Abarta Heritage


Perhaps the most notable and significant monument here is known as Lugg Henge, and it was excavated in the 1940s. The excavation revealed that the Lugg Henge has a complex story, as the site changed a number of times throughout its history. The earliest phase consisted of a number of post-holes that would have once held upright timbers that perhaps once formed a structure, though it was not clear whether such a structure was a place of ceremony or a home. The second phase was more conclusively identified as being a small settlement, with a group of five small huts that shared a communal fireplace. The final phase of the site was creation of the ‘henge’ type monument that you can see today. Henges are a prehistoric monument that are believed to have been a place of ceremonial activity. Like this one at Lugg, henges are typically large circular enclosures, formed by a ditch surrounded by an earthen bank. Henges first appear in the Neolithic period with some examples dating as late as the Iron Age. When the Lugg Henge was excavated in the 1940s, archaeologists found that the central mound covered two burials, both cremations, which were laid directly on a clay surface accompanied by Early Iron Age pottery.

Lugg Henge. Photo Credit: Abarta Heritage

Immediately to the east of Lugg Woods is a pass known as the Slade of Saggart. This formed an important ancient routeway, and the roads from Dublin to Blessington largely follow the old route. It is said that King Laoghaire, High King of Ireland, was slain in battle with the King of Leinster in the nearby Slade Valley in 458 AD. Laoghaire, after whom Dún Laoghaire is named, was a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages and High King of Ireland when St. Patrick arrived. According to tradition, Laoghaire is said to have tried to hinder Patrick’s efforts to spread Christianity and even plotted to have him killed. The following extract from the Annals of the Four Masters describes the incident.

“After Laeghaire, the son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, had been thirty years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he died by the side of Caissi, between Eire and Alba, i.e. two hills which are in Ui Faelain; and it was the Sun and the Wind that killed him, because he had violated them. Concerning which the poet said:

Laeghaire, son of Niall, died

On the side of Caissi, green its land;

The elements of God, whose guarantee he had violated,

Inflicted the doom of death upon the king”.

Ui Faelain here refers to an ancient Gaelic territory which incorporated parts of present-day Kildare and Wicklow. According to the story, Laoghaire had sworn an oath on the sun and moon not to attack the Leinstermen but broke his promise and this led to his demise.


Text & Images: Abarta Heritage

Lugg Woods Walking Trails Map

Useful Resources

National Monuments Service

NMS Historic Environment Viewer

South Dublin Libraries Local Studies Resources

South Dublin Historical Mapping

South Dublin County History

South Dublin Libraries SOURCE  - a digital archive of local studies material relating to South Dublin County


[last updated: 24.07.20]

Archaeology Sites in the Dublin Mountains

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