Sacred Moots: Scone of Scotland and Tara Hill of Ireland | Ancient Origins Members Site


Sacred Moots: Scone of Scotland and Tara Hill of Ireland

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Scone Palace Front side (Ingo Mehling/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sacred Moots: Scone of Scotland and Tara Hill of Ireland

While the Medieval Norse world was judicially controlled by circular open-air assemblies called Things, at mounds called thingstead or thingstow, early Medieval Britain was peppered with moot, mote, and mute hills. These natural hills, or artificially enhanced ancestral burial mounds, were historically used as community meeting places of assembly, just like a moot hall is a meeting or assembly building where local disputes and issues are settled, orators would read out public proclamations and law keepers managed judicial cases.

Motte of Urr in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, near Dalbeattie in ‘Francis Grose Antiquities of Scotland’ by Roger Griffith (1797) It was the great judicial center of the Kings of Galloway, covering the lands below the waters of the River Cree (Public Domain)

Motte of Urr in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, near Dalbeattie in ‘Francis Grose Antiquities of Scotland’ by Roger Griffith (1797) It was the great judicial center of the Kings of Galloway, covering the lands below the waters of the River Cree (Public Domain)

Etymology of Moot

The word moot or mote is of Old English origin from the verb ‘to meet’, and the term folkmoot refers to a specific local assembly with recognized legal rights. In Ireland and Scotland, the word moot appears in the Gaelic place name, Tom a' Mhòid, meaning the ‘Court Hill’, and many Scottish villages and towns feature Court Hills, Justice Hills and Judge’s Hills, which are often associated with names such as ‘law’, ‘knowe’, ‘knock’ and ‘Knockenlaw‘.


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