When planning my trip to Ireland in May I checked the Library Catalogue to see what was available and found this :
I was quite amazed at the amount, variety and quality of ancient monuments to be found, and visited, all over Ireland.
Newgrange from the approach lane
In order of age the earliest site that I visited, and featuring also at the beginning of the first chapter ‘Ireland Before History: The Stone Age’ is Knowth which, along with its, probably better known, neighbour, Newgrange, is “one of three great burial mounds erected in the ‘sacred landscape’ of the Lower Boyne Valley in Co. Meath.” The two passage-tombs under the great tumulus were probably erected before 2500BC. Around the main mound are several recently reconstructed ‘satellite’ tombs.
Knowth Main Mound
One of the Passage Tombs
I didn’t have time to visit both mounds as I was travelling between Co. Kildare and Co. Fermanagh but I did manage Knowth and will definitely return to see Newgrange, especially now that I know how the system for visiting works! My Heritage Ireland Card gave me free admittance to the site.
“Please note this is a very busy site and it is important to be at the Centre early in the day to ensure a visit to the monuments, as places on the tours are limited each day. There is no direct access to either Newgrange or Knowth. All access is through the Visitor Centre and by guided tour only.”
I had arrived across country and found the approach lanes surprisingly quiet but on arrival in the crowded car park and on joining the queues at the Visitor Centre I discovered that most people and all coaches arrive via the nearby Motorway. There’s plenty to see in the Centre and then time to catch the timed minibus to Knowth where you get a very full guided tour inside and outside the tumulus.
We were able to enter the tomb and to climb to the top for a wonderful view towards Newgrange and also The Hill of Tara the ‘most historic place in all Ireland, having played an important mythical and symbolic role in the country from the Stone Age to the 19th century, including the nominal centre of the ‘High Kingship’ of Ireland.’
The Surface on the Top of Knowth
Newgrange from Knowth
It’s quite amazing that the carved stones around the base of the mound have been preserved across the centuries.
Just one example of the stone carvings!
Quartz from the Wicklow Mountains and Granite from the Mountains of Mourne
I will definitely visit again and get to Newgrange and maybe also the site of the Hill Tara which seems to be very little visited.