Visitor’s guide to Brú na Bóinne art – carvings, tombstones and monuments

A great example of the ubiquitous tri-spiral design, ©Sophs74/Flickr

A great example of the ubiquitous tri-spiral design, ©Sophs74/Flickr

Traditions of the past are present in many things. They are present in the everyday lives of the people, in their celebrations and festivals, in their architecture and last but not least in art. Every country, region and town has their own unique style that represents them as a nation, as a community.

In Brú na Bóinne, Boyne Valley art has an important role. The monuments are featured by combinations of triangles and spirals, arcs, chevrons and lozenges which you can see on tombstones and artifacts. Learn more about Irish art. Let us introduce you to its technique and its secrets and find out their meanings.

Incision and pocking

The Irish used two kinds of techniques to create these artistic works. One of the two main techniques is called incision which involves pointed instruments. The other one is called pocking or picking which was used more often. Pocking means using a sharp point held like a chisel and hammering carvings on the surface.

Kerbstone of newgrange, ©dmerino13/Flickr

Kerbstone of newgrange, ©dmerino13/Flickr

Secrets of Irish art

Many carvings and designs were created a very long time ago of which today some of them cannot be seen anymore as the surfaces are hidden. During some excavations it was revealed that some of the carvings were drawn on the undersides of the megalithic stones. Guesses are that it might not have been important that the whole design is seen by humans only by dead spirits or the gods.

Carvings, ©@batique/Flickr

Carvings, ©@batique/Flickr

Several carvings were created before the stones have been put to their places and some of them after they were already positioned. For example the carvings at the entrance of Newgrange were definitely carved as the stone was in its existing position.

Significance and interpretation

As these monuments were created about 5000 years ago we cannot be sure what was the original meaning and significance of it, however some people have different theories on the subject. Many believe that the megalith circles and the spiral represent the cycle of seasons and the movement of celestial objects (the moon, sun and stars). Others suggest that the carvings represent maps of the stars and the otherworld.

A great example of the ubiquitous tri-spiral design, ©Sophs74/Flickr

A great example of the ubiquitous tri-spiral design, ©Sophs74/Flickr

Again others think that these artistic images are visions or hallucinations seen by the shamans during rituals. Other interpretations suggest that the carved stones represent energy lines and that they were used for meditation. No matter what is the real history behind these mysterious monuments they represent a part of the Irish past and this fact already makes them valuable. Visit, admire and cherish the memory!

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