Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb in the Boyne Vally - Ireland's Ancient East
The Megalithic Passage Tombs of Newgrange
are located in present-day County Meath in
. The Boyne Valley Mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and
Dowth were built around 3,200BC making them older than
in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Built by Neolithic farming communities about 5,000 years ago, the passage
tombs have clear astronomical alignments such as the
Winter Solstice Sunrise
at Newgrange and the
Judging from the splendour and magnificence of Newgrange and Knowth it is likely
that these temples of the ancestors were places of astrological, spiritual,
religious and ceremonial importance, much as present day cathedrals are places
of worship where dignitaries may be laid to rest.
There is a lively debate about whether these wonderful megalithic structures
were built primarily as burial tombs, sacred temples or astronomical
observatories. While passage tomb is the traditional archaeological description for Newgrange and similar structures, chambered
cairn or passage mound are the descriptions favoured by those who consider the term
passage tomb too narrow.
The large stones surrounding and inside the Passage Tombs are decorated with
Megalithic Art such as spirals, concentric circles, triangles, zigzags and
images which have been interpreted as the sun or the moon.
Irish passage tombs tend to occur in clusters traditionally described as a
Necropolis or cemetery. The Boyne cluster includes
. The other great clusters in County Meath are on the hills
The ancient Boyne Valley passage tomb mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth have
been designated World Heritage Site status by UNESCO and attract 200,000
visitors per year. The sites and Visitor Centre
are managed by the OPW (Office of Public Works).
For Group Tours and Private Tours including transport from Dublin to Newgrange, Knowth and the Boyne Valley, see Tours
Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb - UNESCO World Heritage Site
is best known for the illumination of its
passage and chamber by the winter solstice
Newgrange is open to the public with controlled access to the passage and chamber.
Tours of Newgrange start at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre
located near the village of Donore, Co. Meath.
has two passages and is surrounded by seventeen
satellite cairns. Knowth is open to the public however there is no public
access to the interior passages and chambers. Tours of Knowth also start at the
Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre
is the only one of the three large Brú na Bóinne
Passage Tombs which is not accessible from the Visitor Centre
situated on the south bank of the Boyne river. Visitors to Dowth can drive directly
to the site on the north bank of the river, a few minutes drive from the N51 Slane / Drogheda road.
with its short passage leading into
a wide pear-shaped chamber is in similar style to Tombs in Portugal. Just inside
the main chamber to the left of the entrance is one of the few possible representations
of a human face from the Neolithic Period in ancient Ireland.
Cairns form the largest complex of
Megalithic structures in Ireland. The Cairns contain symbolic engravings similar
in style to Newgrange. Like other Passage Tombs in ancient Ireland, som have
clear astrological alignments.
The Hill of Tara
was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland in the
first millennium AD however Tara is also the site of a Passage Tomb known as
the Mound of the Hostages dating back to between 2,500 BC and 3,000 BC.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tour
Immerse yourself in the rich hertiage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours.
Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire.
Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland.