Older than the Pyramids in Egypt. More ancient than Stonehenge in England. What am I referring to? The Brú na Bóinne area in County Meath, Ireland where ancient stone and grass covered mounds lead to mystical chambers.
Sitting in the Boyne Valley, the sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are approximately 5000 years old. Yet, many people don’t know about these ancient sites that sit just 58km from Dublin. Newgrange is the oldest of the three and Knowth the youngest. Dowth is not open to the public as of yet.
Newgrange consists of one large mound, 80 meters in diameter with one passage way. It was thought that Newgrange was a sacred burial tomb, but it’s really more of an ancient temple, having astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. The ancient people who built this remarkable structure aligned the roof box (the opening above the entrance to the passage) so that on the winter solstice the sun would shine into the passage way, illuminating the chamber within. On the tours, you can witness a re-creation of this. It’s truly unbelievable to witness, especially when you think about the fact that a culture, without all our technology, could build such a precise way to tell time. And, you can put your name into the lottery to actually be in the chamber on Winter Solstice.
Knowth consists of one large mound that is 95 meters across at its widest point and 18 smaller satellite mounds surrounding it. There are two passage ways to the main site. One passage way faces East and the other West. Each passage leads to a separate tomb and do not meet. The western passage is 34 meters in length and ends at a rectangular shaped chamber. The eastern passage is a little over 40 meters in length and ends in a beehived shaped tomb. Each has its own unique characteristics with carved stones. The western passage actually narrows to a width of approximately 40cm. It’s not for those who are claustrophobic!
The only access to these two incredible ancient sites is through the Brú na Bóinne visitor center. You can choose to see just one of the sites or both. We recommend seeing both if you have time. If you are pressed for time, then definitely go to Newgrange. Your admission fee to the sites also includes the exhibitions at the visitor center. These exhibitions are wonderful, describing the society that created these amazing tombs and go into detail of how these ancient people actually constructed them.
So, if you are looking for a really cool ancient site to explore while in Ireland, be sure not to miss Newgrange and Knowth. Contact us for more information.
Also, check out the Brú na Bóinne website.