Newgrange & Knowth

So, I’m back home after my short holiday in Ireland. We had a great time there, both in the countryside and in Dublin, with lovely hotels, fantastic food and probably better weather than the UK was having.

The main reason we picked the part of Ireland that we did was to see its Neolithic monuments, particularly the passage tombs at Newgrange and Knowth, beside the Boyne river. Both are fantastic sites, particularly the brief trip inside the mound at Newgrange, with its atmospheric lighting and beautiful stone carvings. Both tombs are older than Stonehenge, in a striking location, and very impressive – although I should point out that the white facade of Newgrange was reconstructed in the 1970s, and its interpretation is more than a bit divisive amongst archaeologists. Anyway, there’s more information at that link, for those who are interested (the photos are worth a look, for one thing, to make up for the dreariness of the weather in those we took!).

These two photos show Newgrange’s exterior, and demonstrate just how big it is (and there’s that white facade that may or may not have ever existed in the Neolithic – as I pointed out, and as is noted on Wikipedia, how would Neolithic technology have managed to hold so many small stones up so neatly, and at such a steep angle? At Knowth, where similar pieces of quartz were found, they’ve been instead interpreted as a pavement area in front of the entrance).

As I mentioned before, both sites are also home to some stunning rock carvings. This particular one – probably the most famous from the site – marks the entrance to the passage tomb itself at Newgrange.

As with many such Neolithic sites, both Newgrange and Knowth are fairly touristy, and it’s difficult to get a sense of what the atmosphere would have been like at them when they were constructed. Still, both are incredibly impressive and well worth a look if you’re in the vicinity.