2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Ireland Trip - Newgrange, Knowth and Bru na Boinne Visitor Center

From the World Heritage Ireland website: 
Brú na Bóinne, which means the ‘palace’ or the ‘mansion’ of the Boyne, refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes. It is located close to the east coast of Ireland approximately 40 km north of Dublin city, about 8km west of the medieval town of Drogheda and about 5km east of the village of Slane.

The archaeological landscape within Brú na Bóinne is dominated by the three well-known large passage tombs, Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, built some 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age. An additional ninety monuments have been recorded in the area giving rise to one of the most significant archaeological complexes in terms of scale and density of monuments and the material evidence that accompanies them. The Brú na Bóinne tombs, in particular Knowth, contain the largest assemblage of megalithic art in Western Europe.

The next four photos are from the Visitor's Center and contain information about the history of the site.

From the visitor brochure:  The great mound of Knowth is outlined by 127 massive kerbstones.  Arranged around this are at least eighteen smaller or satellite tombs, at least two of which were built before the great mound.  In 1967 and 1968, Professor George Eogan and his team of archaeologists discovered two tombs within the large central mound, one of the features of which is the great wealth of decoration on the structural stones.  Ceremony and settlement existed at Knowth both before and long after the end of the Neolithic period.

When it was built, the roof rested on these stones but now they are protected by an overhang because many of them have Neolithic art on them.   The stones, weighing 3 to 10 tons each, were carried from many miles away.  The quartz at the base of the stones was also transported from a different area of the country.

Art work on one of the stones.  The stairs are where we entered the mound.

These mounds are passage tombs.   Each one has a long passage that goes through the mound.   It is claimed that the passage at Knowth was lit during the Equinoxes when the sun shone directly thorough the mound.

Double-click to enlarge to read the history of the mounds.

The other end of the passage.

View from atop the mound.

From the visitor's brochure:  Newgrange, the best known Irish passage tomb, is surrounded by a kerb of 97 stones, the most impressive of which is the highly decorated Entrance Stone.  The mound covers a single tomb consisting of a long passage and a cross-shaped chamber.  There are the remains of two smaller tombs immediately to the west of Newgrange and at least one and probably two to the east.

Notice how the quartz is used to create a facade here at Newgrange whereas at Knowth is was show laying around the stone.  This just shows the interpretation of two different archaeologists.  Newgrange was excavated between 1962 and 1975 by Professor M.J. O'Kelly.

The Entrance Stone.  During the winter solstice, light comes in the box above the door and lights up the cross-shaped chamber.

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