Deriv; Ancient Celtic dolmen from Poulnabrone, Ireland and carved Egyptian deity Thoth

Thoth’s Storm: New Evidence for Ancient Egyptians in Ireland?

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When ancient Egypt and Ireland are spoken about in the same breath it usually results in the rolling of eyes, polite exits and the sound of murmurs citing pseudo-history and new age babble.
At least, that used to be the case.

Recent discoveries in DNA research have added to already verified archaeological finds to present a scenario that is now more difficult to dismiss.  

The Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) atop the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland.

The Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) atop the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s most ancient sacred sites. It is surrounded by many other Neolithic earthworks and tombs and although commonly associated with the Celts, the site pre-dates their arrival in Ireland by thousands of years.

In legend it is the place where the Tuatha De Danann reigned. These were a God-like people who were said to have arrived in Ireland in mysterious ships and had magical powers.

A plate of The Dagda, representing the legendary members of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

A plate of The Dagda, representing the legendary members of the Tuatha Dé Danann. ( Public Domain )

Ritual Burials and Mysterious Bones

During recent and very controversial excavations near Tara a story emerged about a strange skeleton that had been found by workers digging at Lismullin Henge. Some thought it was the remains of a dog, others a badger. But, most curious of all was the claim of some witnesses that the remains were, in fact, those of an ape.

As Con Connor, Arch Druid of Ireland’s Celtic Druid Temple writes, “Why was such a ritual burial in a royal site not cause for focused investigation?”

In her work, A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials , author Lynn Brunet writes that, “Furthermore, the Irish Masonic author, J. A. Penny notes that a skeleton of a Barbary ape had been found at Tara, the mythical center of Ireland and seat of the High King.”

But why would there have been such strange bones buried at this site? These primates are not indigenous to Ireland and the archaeological complex surrounding Tara dates back thousands of years. If bones of an ape had been found at any point, do we have a precedent for such a burial at any other of Ireland’s most ancient sacred places?

In fact we do. During excavations at Eimhain Macha (Navan Fort) in County Armagh, the skull of a Barbary ape was found. When it was carbon dated it was discovered to be roughly 2,500 years old. The question for many archaeologists was how it got to Ireland in the first place, but perhaps a more intriguing enquiry would investigate why.

The Irish-Egyptian Connection

One of the more controversial theories when it comes to the origins of the Irish people is a connection to ancient Egypt. Although there are many Irish legends connecting Tara and Egyptian royalty, these have been impossible to prove.

One of the most intriguing examples of these proposals was the discovery of the skeleton of a 15-year-old boy at The Mound of the Hostages, near Tara, by Dr. Sean O Riordan of Trinity College. Carbon dating showed that the remains were roughly 3,800 years old. A necklace found with the skeleton was made of faience beads and matched similar Egyptian manufacture and design.

The Hill of Tara is an archaeological complex featuring many ancient monuments, such as the ‘Mound of Hostages’, seen above. In tradition Hill of Tara is known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

The Hill of Tara is an archaeological complex featuring many ancient monuments, such as the ‘Mound of Hostages’, seen above. In tradition Hill of Tara is known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.  (CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Scotia, Egyptian Royalty

There is also the famous legend of Queen Scotia, an Egyptian princess or queen, depending on which version of the legend you read, who was said to have arrived in Ireland in 1700 BC and was killed by the Tuatha De Danann in a great battle.

Her supposed grave is marked by a giant inscribed stone in County Kerry and its importance has led to local politicians calling for its preservation.

A 15th century depiction of Scota’s voyage from Egypt.

A 15th century depiction of Scota’s voyage from Egypt. ( Public Domain )

An interesting aside is that Scotia’s grave is not far from the island of Skellig Michael, the site of a pre-Christian settlement and a later monastery.

According to the 11th-century  Lebor Gabála É renn (Book of Invasions), Milesius, a great leader of one of Ireland’s invaders lost two of his sons nearby in 1400 BC when a magical storm caused by the Tuatha De Danann submerged their ship. 


The ancient alphabet of Ogham has fascinated and intrigued for many centuries.
Has it any connection with any other ancient alphabet?

Bobby E I too am fascinated by Ogham writing. If you look up Jankovich Cave, Tatarlaska Disk , Moros River disks and finally have a look at Vinca Writing/Script, you may see some similarities to the basic ogham script.
Following up on Davids article above, my thoughts are that the Pontic peoples who emigrated to Ireland had the original Pontic script that never developed past the Ogham stage, due to an Oral culture taking precedence ie the Druids. Vinca eventually morphed into Sumerian is a possible theory, but when I have seen Ogham in situ it is incredible to think that it is a language at all!!
Cheers Bobby!!

David Halpin's picture

Hi. Thanks for the comments. You both might be interested in this lecture by Lucy Wyatt which touches upon many of the subjects in my research.


David Halpin

Okay, first of all – “Thoth” is the Greek name for that particular deity. The Egyptian name – which, since we’re looking at an Egyptian connection to Ireland – is ḏḥwty, possibly pronounced something like Djhuty (*ḏiḥautī). So the word “Thoth” can’t really be used to link Egypt and Ireland, unless you’re saying it was Greeks importing Egyptian culture in.

Secondly, the Celtic myths that survived were very heavily influenced by both the Romans and the monks who recorded them. I’ve read one book – “A Brief Guide to Celtic Myths & Legends” by Martyn Whittock (ISBN13: 978-1-78033-892-7) that claims that a great deal of the links to Egypt portrayed in the stories of the Tuatha De (Danann) are based on biblical stories – the monks trying to link Celtic myths to biblical ones. This makes a certain amount of sense, especially if you look at the actual dates of when the myths were written down. They’re all around the times of 11th to 12th centuries CE. That’s centuries after Christianity came to the British Isles, and even before that, the Romans had heavily affected the native Celtic myths and legends.

Third, as I believe someone else pointed out, the ancients had elaborate trade routes all throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near and Middle East. Admittedly, 3.8K years ago is before the Phoenicians (who were not exactly a single people, so far as we know, but a conglomeration of city states) took control of maritime trade, but overland trade did exist. (How else could Baltic amber get down to the Mediterranean to be discovered in the wreck of a ship dating to around 1305-1300 CE or thereabouts – which was, FYI, also before the Phoenicians came to prominence. Check out the info about the Uluburun shipwreck.)

And fourth – reading through the paper on the genetic discoveries you reference… where is the connection to Egypt? Yes, it mentions that the Neolithic subject was descended from peoples from the Middle East – referring to the Fertile Crescent – and there might have been some Egyptian there… but she wasn’t descended primarily from Egyptians. As for the Bronze Age genomes, they were linked to the Pontic-Caspian Steppes, which is the likely origin of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Again, not Egyptian.

Those pesky Greeks gave their names to so many ancient Egyptian words and they have become so common that we tend to think they were the Egyptian words. Some examples:

Pyramid “meaning wheat cake” replaced the Egyptian “"Mr” usually written as Mer meaning unknown. In Arabic, pyramid means “ultimate age or size”

Pharaoh replaced the Egyptian “pero or per-a-a” meaning “Great House” and referred to the royal residence

Sphinx replaced the Egyptian “Ssp Ankh" meaning “the living image”

Obelisk meaning "needle” replaced the Egyptian “tekhenu” meaning "to pierce"

Isis replaced the Egyptian “Aset,  Eset or Iset” meaning “throne”

Even the land itself if Greek (originally Aigýptios or Aegyptios). The Egyptians called their land kmt Usually written “Kemet” meaning “Black Land” named for the black silt left behind after the annual flood of the Nile. Later, the country was called by the Arabic word “Msir” meaning “country”

There are others but I think I made my point. Also, Osiris is the Latinized form of the Egyptian Usir which is interpreted as "powerful" or "might”


By the way, it should be noted that vowels were not ed in ancient times so the addition of them is arbitrary.



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