Brú na Bóinne

Year
2015
Brú na Bóinne means “the palace” or “the mansion” of the Boyne – the fertile Boyne River valley that has protected and provided for its inhabitants for the last 6 thousand years. Boyne River’s welcoming embrace stopped Stone Age hunters and gatherers in their tracks, turning them into farmers – and once there was enough food for everyone enough manpower became available to create, build and design.

Nowadays Brú na Bóinne complex is a World Heritage Site consisting of over 90 monuments (Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth passage tombs being the most famous).

Brú na Bóinne: tiled map at Newgrange (OPW 1987)
Brú na Bóinne: tiled map at Newgrange (OPW 1987)
River Boyne embrace has provided rich soils and protection to the lands for the last 6 thousand years.
For the past 6 thousand years River Boyne embrace has provided rich soils and protection to the lands within.
Newgrange

Ray of Light


Newgrange

Newgrange and Knowth are only two sites from the massive Boyne Valley cluster of the Megalithic Passage Tombs. The mega-Tombs were (and sometimes still are) surrounded by smaller mounds / cairns, places of worship, decorated stones of various sizes and unknown purposes, and ruins of various settlements from their 5,000-year long history.

The passage “tombs” were in fact not only tombs (although some human remains have been found there) but most likely centres of spiritual and ceremonial life, temples and astrological observatories. They were very precisely aligned to allow the sun rays through the stone passages during solstice or equinox. This feature can be still observed in Newgrange but unfortunately not in Knowth as the mound has been badly damaged over the years, covered to a large extend and uncovered again – and it even had a ditch, a village, a fort and a farm built on top throughout its history.

The sites haven’t changed one bit since my previous visit in 2010… After all what’s 5 years in a 5 THOUSAND years lifespan!

Newgrange

The slope approach
The slope approach
The staff
The staff
The queues
The queues
No climbing
No climbing
Stone cladding details
Stone cladding details

Newgrange in its landscape
Newgrange and its landscape setting

Megalithic Art


Knowth

The largest of Boyne Valley mounds Knowth is also unusual in its design: there is not one but two passages inside. They do not connect and one is directing roughly East while the other faces West (they were most likely aligned for Spring and Autumn equinoxes).

Of 127 Knowth kerbstones three are missing but the remaining ones are considered the largest and best preserved collection of Megalithic art in Western Europe. The designs are highly unique and their meaning remains a mystery.

More info on Knowth and its history is available on World Heritage Ireland page.

Shuttle bus stickers
Shuttle bus stickers

Knowth

Shuttle buses take visitors to the mounds.
Shuttle buses take visitors to the tombs.
Phallic stone probably was aligned to cast shadow into the Western passage during equinox
Phallic stone was aligned to cast shadow into the Western passage during equinox
Satellite cairns in Knowth
Satellite passage tombs in Knowth
Medieval souterrain (underground tunnel), possibly used as pantry / escape route.
Medieval souterrain (underground tunnel), possibly used as pantry / escape route.
Megalithic art: only stone / wooden tools were used.
Megalithic art (kerbstone K42)
Knowth tomb: the weight of the mound have almost closed the stone passage already
The weight of the mound has almost closed the Eastern passage
Megalithic art: only stone / wooden tools were used.
Only stone, bone and wooden tools were used.