Top heritage sites in Brú na Bóinne: Knowth – tombs and history after the building period

Knowth stone, ©theilr-Flickr

Knowth stone, ©theilr-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. After Newgrange, Knowth is a remarkable prehistoric memorial site, which is basically a large dune with two passage tombs enclosed by 18 smaller dunes. The large mound lies on approximately half a hectare and it is called Site 1. The entrances are dotted with unusual rocks like granite or quartz. The smaller tombs, of which some are connected to the large dune, lay around the large tomb surrounding it.

The tombs

Satellite mound at Knowth, ©fhwrdh-Flickr

Satellite mound at Knowth, ©fhwrdh-Flickr

As it was mentioned above, the large tomb has two passages, one on the eastern side and one facing west. These two passages are not connected, but the distance between the two ends is only 3 meters. The eastern tomb has a 40 meter long passage which leads into a room with a roof in the shape of a beehive. Inside the chamber there are three recesses which contain the remnants of the dead. The western side was originally 34 meters long. Its narrow passage also leads to a tomb which is about 2 meters high and is covered with a long stone.

Tomb Passage - Knowth, ©miss.libertine-Flickr

Tomb Passage – Knowth, ©miss.libertine-Flickr

After the builders

Excavations have proved that not only the original builders have used this site for religious and other rituals. Archeologists have found different kinds of implements and pottery which indicate that other phases of ritual activity have taken place in Knowth. Near the eastern passage a 9 meter wide wooden monument was found which is dating back to approximately 2500 BC.

Knowth stone, ©theilr-Flickr

Knowth stone, ©theilr-Flickr

On Site 15 there the archeologists have found beaker pottery which also proves the existence of a civilization around 2300 BC. After the Beaker period there are no signs of ritual activities until the early centuries AD, when people started to bury their deceased at Knowth again. There were found 35 graves containing female bodies.

From cemetery to defense

In the early centuries of Christianity the purposes of Knowth have changed from being a burial site into a defensive site. The residents have dug two ditches around the mound and thus Knowth has been used as a defended location during the whole period of the Middle Age.

Circular wooden structure at the Knowth site, ©dmerino13-Flickr

Circular wooden structure at the Knowth site, ©dmerino13-Flickr

In the 8th-12th centuries on this same site there was a large settlement. Archeologists have found several artifacts from that period and discovered underground tunnels which supposedly were used for escape or hiding. During the Norman period Knowth and the surrounding area got into the possession of Mellifont Cistercian Abbey.

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