Brú na Bóinne
Clustered around a bend in the river Boyne, in the UNESCO World Heritage site known as Brú na Bóinne, are some of the most extraordinary and ancient megalithic structures in the world, the passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. All show an astonishing knowledge of science and astronomy given that they are at least 5000 years old, predating the pyramids by thousands of years.
Newgrange is the most visited site, known for its careful astrological alignment which means that at sunrise on just a few days annually – around the time of the Winter Solstice – a beam of light travels down the long narrow entrance passage and illuminates the inner chamber, which at all other times is in complete darkness.
Knowth is a larger and possibly more interesting place to visit, with a larger main tomb and several other mounds and cairns as well as remnants of structures that date as far back as 7000-8000 years. There are also remains from the early Christian and Medieval periods here, including an intact medieval kiln and a series of ‘souterrains’, short cave like passages built about 1200 years ago and used to store food and valuables.
Dowth is the least known of the three major passage tombs but also the oldest. There are two passage graves here, both on the west side, as well as a third tunnel which dates to the early Christian period, and believed to be a hiding place for monks.
Two thirds of all known Megalithic Art in Western Europe is found in the area of Brú na Bóinne with more than 300 decorated stones, the best known being the one below, which stands at the entrance to Newgrange. While the meaning of most carvings and decorations are unknown, one has recently been identified as the world’s earliest lunar map, long predating the next oldest one which was created by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Brú na Bóinne is an absolute must-see on any itinerary and one we try to include for any guests who have not visited before. Because of their importance access to these sites is controlled and only possible by guided tour from the visitor centre. A common complaint is about long waits for a tour, but we time and book tours for our guests to ensure minimal or no wait time and maximum time at the sites themselves.