Mayne Bog Trackway
Retracing the steps of our Ancestors
In 2005 a local man made a remarkable discovery at Mayne Bog, near the village of Coole, County Westmeath. When out walking he found the remains of an ancient trackway or ‘tochair’, as it’s known in Irish. Following several excavations it was revealed that it dated from the late Bronze Age, about 3000 years ago.
Spanning approximately 800m with an average width of almost 5m, the Mayne Bog trackway is highly significant in archaeological terms.
Building a trackway like this would have been a huge undertaking, requiring many skilled craftsmen like metalworkers, toolmakers, and carpenters. It is estimated that over 100 mature oak trees were required to construct it. As well as the physical labour involved in a project of this scale, managing a large community of workers was no small task either.
Unlike other trackways, there is little evidence of seasonal repairs or rebuilding at Mayne Bog. Therefore, it is believed the trackway served its purpose shortly after it was constructed. In common with many other trackways, there are more questions than answers about its function. Why was it built in the first instance? Was it built as a powerful status symbol or to serve a short-term specific need? Perhaps it was built as a territorial boundary. Or was it part of a wider network of routeways? Whatever the reason, we can only speculate today.
By their nature, peatland archaeological sites are best preserved by being left within their natural environment. Digital re-creations and other initiatives can help foster an awareness of Mayne Bog’s national significance. The unresolved theories about why the trackway came to be built only serve to pique our imagination.
Watch this short film to learn more about the Mayne Bog Trackway and how our peatlands are instrumental in preserving our prehistoric past.
The Digital Dimension
This 3D model shows how a section of the Mayne Bog Trackway would have looked like. Thin oak planks were placed directly on the bog surface and wooden pegs helped to stabilise the structure. Experts estimate the trackway runs for 800 metres, but it could possibly have crossed the nearby Inny River and continued even further.
Mayne Bog is located approximately 1.5km from the village of Coole, County Westmeath, on the road between Castlepollard and Edgeworthstown (R395). The site of the trackway is close to the River Inny, which flows into the River Shannon.
Mayne bog is not accessible to visitors and the surviving stretch of the trackway cannot be seen because it lies between 1.5m to 2m below the surface of the uncut ‘high bog’.