“Some pious friends of the Anglo-Israel movement have desired a digging search over Tara, now a wilderness region, to discover the missing treasures from Solomon’s temple.”1
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a movement known as the British Israel Association of London (or ‘The British-Israelites’) was convinced that the Ark of the Covenant (an object described in the bible as a chest containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed) was brought to Ireland in about 580 BC.
One of the core beliefs of the British Israelites was that the Anglo-Saxon race was descended from the “Lost Tribes of Israel”. A sub-faction within the British Israelites was The Knights Of Tara, founded in 1885 and led by Walton Adams and Charles Groom.2
In May 1899, the British Israelites carried out excavations of the Hill of Tara looking for the Ark. Before going there though, they looked for it in Cave’s Marsh, believing that the Ark had been brought first to Ulster in the north of Ireland and then moved down the coast to Inbher Domnainn, the ancient name of the Broadmeadow estuary.
In early 1899, led by Charles Groom, they dug at a site where the present day Malahide upper estuary yacht club is situated.3 When nothing was uncovered they turned their attention to Tara and caused huge damage to that site before eventually being stopped, largely thanks to a campaign led by the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.4
1. Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. 1894, Reprinted by Dorset Press, 1986.
2. Swanson, Vern G. Dynasty of the Holy Grail: Mormonism’s Sacred Bloodline. Cedar Fort, 2006.
3. Malahide Historical Society Newsletter, December 1994.
4. Carew, Mairead. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara, 1899-1902. Royal Irish Academy, 2003.