Knowth - The Traveller


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Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Knowth – A Neolithic Passage Grave/Ancient Monument

Knowth is a Neolithic passage grave, and an ancient monument, a 5000 year old main mound, known as Knowth Site 1, which is contemporary with the mounds at Newgrange and Dowth. These mounds have been considered as Passage Tombs by several archaeologists and together they are known as Bru na Boinne which are located in the valley of the River Boyne in Ireland.

Knowth is one of the largest of all passage graves within this complex consisting of one large mound together with seventeen smaller satellite tombs. Knowth Site 1 which is about 12 metres is a large mound, is 40 feet high and 67 metres in diameter,has two passages which have been placed towards the east-west line, encircled by 127 kerbstones, out of which four are damaged and three are missing.

The passages which are independent of each other leads to a burial chamber and the eastern passage gives way to a cruciform chamber which is the same as the one found at Newgrange containing three recesses along with basin stones in which are placed the remains of the cremated person.

 The western passage on the other hands terminates in an undifferentiated chamber, a rectangular chamber which is separated with a sill stone from the passage. The mound is encircled with these 127 kerbstones most of which were decorated with megalithic art.

Motifs of Spiral/Lozenges/Concentrated Circles

This site has more than a third of the total number of megalithic art in the whole of Western Europe with over 200 decorated stones that were found at the time of excavation at Knowth. Most of the motifs that have been found at Knowth are spirals, lozenges and concentric circles.

The megalithic art found at Knowth have a huge variety of images like crescent shapes and some of the artwork have been carved at the back of stones which could have been reused or probably the builder intended them to be hidden.

The large mound has been considered to date between 2500 and 2000 BCE. It is one of the most amazing of the passage mounds in Ireland and an important part of the large megalithic observatory of the Boyne Valley besides the two great mounds of Newgrange and Dowth. In 1970s the mound had been completely restored by bulldozers and heavy machine and gave it a distinct look of today.

Alternate Layers of Turf/Soil & Shale/Pebbles

It was also found that the mound had been built up of alternate layers of turf, soil and shade, pebbles. Annual excavations carried out by George Eogan since 1962 indicate Knowth to be an amazing monument made up of sod, clay shale and stone with some of the stones weighing up to four tons and probably quarried in distances of 8 to 12 km.

Eogan found dark granite cobbles similar to those found at Newgrange, brought from Mountains of Mourne around 60 km to the north and white quartz stones from Wicklow Mountains which was a similar distance towards the south.

Access to Knowth for visitors is through guided tours only from the Bru na Boinne World Heritage Site Visitor Centre which is located in the vicinity of the village of Donore towards the south bank of the river Boyne, Visits are done during Easter to mid-October with no direct public access by road to Knowth is available

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