Top heritage sites in Brú na Bóinne: Dowth – burial chambers, art and winter solstice

Dowth and a volatile Co. Meath sky, ©Rowan of Ravara/Flickr

Dowth and a volatile Co. Meath sky, ©Rowan of Ravara/Flickr

The most important monuments in Brú na Bóinne are the megalithic stones at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The before mentioned monuments are enlisted as World Heritage Sites. Dowth might not be as widely known as the other tombs but it is just as much valuable and worth visiting. This monument was most probably built about 5000 years ago just like the others. What is different about it though is that unlike Newgrange and Knowth, Dowth can be visited directly. Here you can take a look at the burial chambers, the souterrains, the amazing carved artworks, and if you visit at the right time, you might catch the beautiful light phenomenon caused by the winter solstice.

Burial Chambers, north and south passages

The burial chambers of Dowth are much shorter than the ones found at Newgrange and Knowth, on the other hand the chambers are very large and inside there are gigantic stones. The 8 m long passage on the northern side is divided by three stones. At the end of the passage there is a chamber in the form of a cross which has three side recesses. On the floor inside the central chamber there is a large stone basin. The 3.3 m long southern passage leads to a smaller tomb, a fairly circular chamber which has one recess. The roof is made of concrete but the original one was supposedly corbelled. The recess and the main chamber are separated by a sill stone.

Dowth view from Newgrange, ©_TuVeuxMaPhoto_/Flickr

Dowth view from Newgrange, ©_TuVeuxMaPhoto_/Flickr

The souterrain and carved art

A few thousand years after the residents of Dowth have built the passage tombs, specifically in the 9-11th century, something else was built as well: the souterrain. As the word itself says, the construction is located underground and is connected to the northern passage. This space was used as a storage place where the people kept important commodities and food for times of trouble. Many of the stones at Dowth have carvings on them. The most sifnificant and outstanding is kerbstone 51 which is sometimes is called Stone of the Seven Suns. Inside the northern passage a stone has sun burst carved on it while in the southern passage there is another stone which has circular carvings.

Dowth, ©Rowan of Ravara/Flickr

Dowth, ©Rowan of Ravara/Flickr

Winter Solstice at Dowth

One of the world’s most beautiful phenomena is as the light during the winter solstice penetrates the tombs and chambers of Dowth. The rays of the setting sun enters and briefly lights up the all year round dark chambers. It is something definitely worth seeing!

Dowth and a volatile Co. Meath sky, ©Rowan of Ravara/Flickr

Dowth and a volatile Co. Meath sky, ©Rowan of Ravara/Flickr

Leave a Reply