Meath’s rich soil, laid down during the last Ice Age, attracted settlers as early as 8000 BC. They worked their way up the banks of the River Boyne, transforming the landscape from forest to farmland. The extensive necropolis at Brú na Bóinne, dating from when the Egyptian pyramids were still but a dream, lies on a meandering section of the Boyne between Drogheda and Slane. There’s a group of smaller passage graves in the Loughcrew Hills near Oldcastle.
For a thousand years the Hill of Tara was the seat of power for Irish high kings (ard ríthe), until the arrival of St Patrick in the 5th century. Later, Kells became one of the most important and creative monastic settlements in Ireland, and lent its name to the famed Book of Kells, a 9th-century illuminated manuscript now displayed at Trinity College, Dublin.