Late Sunday morning, we were looking for something fun to do and learned about a World Heritage Site just a 30-minute drive from our house. Located in County Meath, the Newgrange and Knowth (shown above) passage tombs were built around 3,200 b.c., making them older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids.
Kenzie ponders the significance of the megalithic artwork. Is it a story? Decoration? Really old graffiti? Nobody knows for sure.
Zoe’s backdrop is the Boyne Valley as seen from the top of the Knowth site.
Knowth tomb (right) and smaller satellite tomb (left). There are 18 satellite mounds on the site and many more across the entire county. Most are on private farmland.
Newgrange is impressive! It’s about 93 yards in diameter and 15 yards high and covers an acre.
The entrance to Newgrange (above) is oriented so that at dawn on winter solstice —and for two days before and after—the rising sun shines through an opening in the roof box and illuminates the passage to the burial chamber. There’s an annual lottery for access inside the tomb on those days. (Solstice sunlight not guaranteed in this rainy country!)
The white quartz stones (above) come from the Wicklow Mountains, which are about 70 kilometers away from the Newgrange site. Ireland did not have the wheel or horses when these tombs were built; it is believed that oxen were used to transport the stones.
There’s not a lot known about Stone Age farmers who built these tombs, but their engineering and astronomy skills were certainly advanced!
What a great way to spend an afternoon! We loved learning about this part of ancient Irish history.