During 1899 and 1902, members of the British-Israel Association of London came to Co Meath to dig up the Hill of Tara. These ‘British-Israelites’ believed they would find buried there the Ark of the Covenant, the chest said to contain the Ten Commandments inscribed on stone tablets. Their strange and unlawful activity provoked a protest from cultural figures such as William Butler Yeats, Arthur Griffith, Douglas Hyde and Maud Gonne. The Press supported their protests, making this the first media campaign to save a national monument.
Founded by Edward Wheeler Bird, a retired Anglo-Indian judge, the organisation became the unified mouthpiece of all sections of the British-Israel movement which believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, the wandering biblical Hebrews. It held many theories, most of which were wonderfully colorful.
Central to them all, however, was an underlying conviction in the British right to…
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