Navan Fort Visitors Centre, Armagh

Navan Management Ltd

Client: Navan Management Ltd

Completion: June 1994

Value: £6.2m

Project Summary

This multi-award winning and instantly recognisable Interpretative Centre was designed and delivered by McAdams on one of Ireland's most historic and important archaeological sites. The sensitivity of the subject matter created much interest as the building was to be located adjacent to the historic Navan Fort at Armagh, the seat of the ancient Celtic kings, and therefore within an historic and unspoilt landscape. The solution adopted by McAdams was to partially bury the building into the adjacent drumlin and to cover the exposed roof area in grass to substantially conceal the building structure. The internal accommodation provided exhibition and display areas to inform the public, a mini theatre for visual performances, public café and shop facilities and supporting administration offices, etc.

Several archaeological agencies were initially uncomfortable with the idea of a new structure so close to the ancient Navan Fort mound and the potential visual spoiling of the landscape. Their concerns were successfully overcome by the creation of this “hidden building”. Our design and completed building created a cave like entrance, giving the perception of entering another world or going back in time.

Following completion, the project attracted numerous awards such as RIBA Regional Award Winner 1994, RIAI Regional Award Winner 1994 and the Ewart Architectural Award Winner 1995.


The Navan Fort Visitors Centre was an extremely ambitious project for Northern Ireland and in particular the local residents of Armagh. Its notable successes included:

  • Seamlessly integrating the building into a historic setting and area of outstanding natural beauty in such a way as to be almost invisible
  • Re-told the important cultural narrative around the Ulster Cycle and ancient Kings
  • Established an important visitor attraction in the Armagh area to enhance its already enviable reputation as a tourist destination
  • The project, although costing more than the initial budget, was completed within approved costs and opened to the public on time as anticipated by the client

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