|Knowth - Rock Art - Rock Art|
Like Newgrange, Knowth is only accessible via the visitor center (O 027 727). The site is currently undergoing excavation and renovation to turn it into even more of a tourist haven. You are not allowed to enter either of the two passage tombs in the main mound or the smaller orbital mounds. Knowth is a veritable necropolis having some 17 orbital mounds dotted about the huge 85m diameter mound.
The state of the smaller mounds varies from rebuilt to piles of rubble. The ones in a worse state are being worked on at the moment. Unfortunately, these were all around the entrance to the main passage when we visited and so stopping us from seeing the passage or single standing stone that marks the location of the entrance stone.
As with Newgrange the main passage is aligned with the sun rise on winter solstice. The carving on the kerb stones is dramatic, nearly every stone has something upon it. Apparently the carvings of Knowth account for up to 50% of the Neolithic carvings in Ireland. I personally think that this figure is old and consequently high. Never the less, there is a vast amount of it.
I will be honest and say that I was not really looking forward to coming to Knowth again, but my fears were dispelled. It is now possible to walk around the whole of the main mound and see much more of what is an amazing site.
The entrance to the east tunnel has a very nice and very curious phallic stone standing in front of it and the entrance to the west tunnel is now host to a small room that shows you a cross section of the mound and its structure. It is possible to see up the west tunnel. Entrance into the passages here is now gone forever.
They have now started to reconstruct the medieval track that led to the top of the mound and soon you will be able to walk onto the top where views should be stunning.
I still get the feeling of enormous over engineering for the commercial at Knowth but I can't deny that it is a fabulous site.
I wasn't intending to post an entry for every trip I make to Knowth, Newgrange (County Meath) and Dowth (County Meath), but there have been some significant changes since I was last there.
Firstly, the prices have risen! But the main differences are actually structural ones. You can now gain access to the top of the mound via some steps. This gives you amazing views of the Boyne Valley and, what's more, it now gives you the opportunity to see the Boyne itself. Now you can finally place Knowth in the landscape and in relation to the river, something which is very important to the site.
The other 'advance' is not such a good one for the visitor. Outisde both passage entrances they have now relaid the quartz and granite scatters that are the remains of the fallen facades. This looks lovely, but you can now not get near to the entrance of the west passage and look down it. Very disappointing!
When you get American visitors that are into history there's no finer place to take them than Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth to start a trip. Today's guide was excellent, but I don't think the visitor centre were quite ready for the volume of people that were there today. The weather was fantastic and there were a lot of people trying to see the monuments. There seemed to be some disorganisation around handing out tickets. We only just got back in time for the bus to Newgrange!
I spent the time the others were inside the mound taking some 3D video and photos, which will take a while for me to upload.
Click Thumbnail to View Full Size Image
The only way to reach this place is via the visitors center at O 026 727. Follow the N2 north from Dublin towards Slane. Approximately 2.5 km south of Slane turn right towards Dunroe. The visitors center is about 6 km along this road on the left.
Upon the rediscovery of the east passage one of the first people to enter it was a workman called John Rock. I like that!
On its rediscovery one of the first people to enter the east passage was a workman called John Rock. Superb!
For a very good (and definitive) read on Knowth, the book by George Eogan, the chief excavator, is a must. It is beautifully written and full of information and excellent drawings of the art-work at knowth.
Title : Knowth and the passage tombs of Ireland (New Aspects of Antiquity)
ISBN : 0500275939
Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Author: George Eogan
Status .... sadly out of print
This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.
Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.
Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.
The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.
UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.
ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.