County of the Republic of Ireland, in the province of Leinster; county town Navan; area 2,340 sq km/ 903 sq mi; population (2002) 134,000. The chief river is the Boyne, of which the Blackwater is a tributary. The principal towns are Kells, Trim, Athboy, Bettystown, and Laytown. Cattle and sheep are reared, and oats and potatoes are grown. The largest working lead mine in Europe is located near Navan. Tara Hill, 155 m/509 ft high, was the site of a palace and was the coronation place of many kings of Ireland; St Patrick also preached here. The Book of Kells (now held in Trinity College Library, Dublin) was produced at Kells in the 8th century.
Topography Meath is bounded in the east by the Irish Sea, in the south by Kildare, in the north by Monaghan, in the southwest by Offaly, in the northwest by Cavan, and in the west by Westmeath. The coast is low and sandy, and the surface is mainly flat, limestone plain rising towards the west, the highest point being Slieve na Caillighe (276 m/906 ft).
Historical remains There are beautiful 12th-century ruins at Duleek, originally a monastic settlement founded by St Patrick in the 5th century. There are also the ruins of Bective Abbey, once a powerful Cistercian abbey that owned a large part of the county of Meath; and Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Tara Hill is a very ancient site, and was probably orginally a religious rather than a residential centre. Its heyday was in the 3rd century AD, and the site was still in use in the 10th century. There are significant monastic remains at Kells, founded in the 6th century by St Columba (Colum Cille).
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