My Day at New Grange
On Saturday, 5th of June, 2010, I made my way for the first time in my life to the archaeological site in County Meath, Ireland, known as Bru Na Boinne. Within this archaeological site there are three very important passage tombs the oldest of which Newgrange pre-dates the Pyramids in Egypt by over 1000 years. Such is the significance of New Grange in County Meath, Ireland, that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated the entire area known as Bru Na Boinne as a World Heritage Site. I have used the Google Translator to explain the above in some different languages.
Ar an Satharn, 5 Meitheamh, 2010, rinne mé mo bhealach don chéad uair i mo shaol ar an suíomh seandálaíochta i gContae na Mí, Éire, ar a dtugtar Brú na Bóinne. Laistigh den suíomh seandálaíochta tá trí tuamaí pasáiste an-tábhachtach ag an duine is sine a New Grange roimh na dátaí-an Piramidí san Éigipt le níos mó ná 1000 bliain. Is é sin an tábhacht na Nua-Grange i gContae na Mí, Éire, go bhfuil na Náisiún Aontaithe Oideachais, Eolaíochta agus Chultúir na hEagraíochta (UNESCO) ainmnithe an limistéar ar fad ar a dtugtar Brú na Bóinne mar Shuíomh Oidhreachta Domhanda.
Am Samstag, 5. Juni 2010 machte ich meinen Weg zum ersten Mal in meinem Leben, die archäologische Stätte in der Grafschaft Meath, Irland, als Bru na Bóinne bekannt. Innerhalb dieser archäologischen Stätte gibt es drei sehr wichtige Stelle Gräber von denen die ältesten New Grange vor der Zeit der Pyramiden in Ägypten von mehr als 1000 Jahren. Das ist die Bedeutung von New Grange in County Meath, Irland, dass die United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) bezeichnet das gesamte Gebiet als Bru na Bóinne als Weltkulturerbe bekannt.
Larunbata ekaina 2010 5ean, nire bidea egin nuen nire bizitzan lehen aldiz egin Meatheko konderria, Irlanda, Bru Na Boinne izeneko web gune arkeologikoa egiteko. hau aztarnategiaren barruan, hiru pasarte oso garrantzitsua hilobi zaharrena horietatik New Grange pre-datak Egiptoko piramideak 1000 urteetan zehar. Hala nola, New Grange garrantzia County Meath, Irlanda, da, Nazio Batuen Hezkuntza, Zientzia eta Kultur Erakundea (UNESCO) izendatutako Bru Na Boinne bezala ezagutzen Gizateriaren Ondare bezala, eremu osoa duten.
Le Samedi 5 Juin 2010, j'ai fait mon chemin pour la première fois dans ma vie pour le site archéologique dans le comté de Meath, en Irlande, connu sous le nom Bru na Bóinne. Dans ce site archéologique, il ya trois passage très important tombes dont les plus anciennes New Grange avant les dates des Pyramides en Egypte par plus de 1000 ans. Telle est la signification de New Grange dans le comté de Meath, en Irlande, que l'Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture (UNESCO) a désigné toute la région connue sous le nom Bru na Bóinne comme site du patrimoine mondial.
Pada hari Sabtu 5 Jun 2010, aku berjalan untuk pertama kalinya dalam hidup saya ke laman web arkeologi di County Meath, Ireland, yang dikenali sebagai Bru Na Boinne. Dalam halaman arkeologi ini ada tiga bahagian yang sangat penting makam tertua yang Baru Grange pra-tarikh Piramid di Mesir oleh lebih dari 1000 tahun. Itulah pentingnya Grange Baru di County Meath, Ireland, bahawa PBB untuk Pendidikan, Ilmu Pengetahuan, dan Budaya Organisasi (UNESCO) yang dilantik oleh semua kawasan yang dikenali sebagai Bru Na Boinne sebagai Tapak Warisan Dunia.
El sábado 05 de junio 2010, me dirigí por primera vez en mi vida a la zona arqueológica en el Condado de Meath, Irlanda, conocido como Bru Na Boinne. Dentro de este sitio arqueológico hay tres tumbas paso muy importante la más antigua de New Grange, que es anterior a las Pirámides de Egipto por más de 1000 años. Tal es el significado de New Grange, en el condado de Meath, Irlanda, que las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (UNESCO) designó el área entera conocida como Bru Na Boinne como Patrimonio de la Humanidad.
The site known as Bru Na Boinne is a short distance from a number of key locations, best known of which would be Slane village in CountyMeath, famous for its annual concerts at SlaneCastle. I have highlighted Newgrange as it is the best known and largest of the passage tombs within the Bru Na Boinne area, however, there are two further large passage tombs known as Knowth and Dowth. The reason this area is known as Bru Na Boinne is due to a spectacular bend in the River Boyne that runs close by, Bru Na Boinne meaning in Irish, the Palace or Mansion of the Boyne.
I brought my digital camera with me on my visit to Bru Na Boinne and I have tried to capture as much of the experience as possible from the moment of arrival to the moment of exit. I have taken a great many photographs and so have only displayed some here due to the time it takes to up load pictures. I hope my pictures help you to enjoy the Newgrange experience from a distance; however, I would have to say that only a visit will truly quench your thirst for knowledge and a sense of history.
I arrived at the car park of the Bru Na Boinne Visitor’s Centre early as I was told by staff when I phoned on Friday that due to the good weather and the Bank Holiday weekend it could be busy. At 9am there were already some cars in the car park and people, more prepared than I, were rubbing sun cream on, placing wide brimmed hats on their heads, open sandals on their feet and various models of shorts adorned their legs, I was of course in short sleeves and jeans. As I made my way to the Visitor’s Centre, which is clearly sign posted, I was immediately excited by the long winding, rustic walk way that was cobbled with Indian sand stone and covered over by a solid timber trestle. Along the walk way some large rocks are placed in order to give the visitor a taste of what might lay a head.
As I approached the Visitor’s Centre which is about one hundred metres from the car park, I could see a modern day rock and water feature that again showed how much care and attention to detail has been paid by those who opened up this area so that it could be shared by people from all over the world. Upon entering the Visitor’s Centre I was immediately greeted by friendly and helpful staff, I knew exactly where and when I was supposed to go in order to get the full benefit of my time at Bru Na Boinne.
The Visitor’s Centre has an exhibition some of which I have captured in pictures for you, it is an excellent exhibition and it really does take you back in time. It is so easy to imagine how people lived 5000 years ago. Contrary to much public myth these people were not savages; they were in fact architects, builders, astrologists, artists, farmers and much more, we know this from the vast amount of archaeological material found at Bru Na Boinne.
A video in different languages is shown at the Visitors Centre at regular intervals. Bru Na Boinne Visitor Centre interprets the Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The extensive exhibition also includes a full scale replica of the chamber at Newgrange as well as a full model of one of the smaller (satellite) tombs at Knowth. All admission to Newgrange is through the visitor’s centre and visitors are taken to Newgrange and Knowth by shuttle bus, it is all very well organised and streamlined.
Having viewed the exhibition I then made my way to the tourist information area to collect literature about Bru Na Boinne and other sites of importance in the area. Some gifts and craft work can also be purchased. There is a very pleasant and well laid out café area which serves meals, sandwiches and soft drinks. However, you may also bring your own food and drinks if you wish, which can be enjoyed in the many seated areas around the Newgrange and Knowth sites. It was then time for me to make my way along a short picturesque walk way to board the shuttle bus for the passage tomb known as Knowth. The walk way takes you along a winding path and over a cable suspended bridge that hangs over the River Boyne.
The shuttle buses leave every fifteen minutes and you are designated to a particular bus by time. A small stick on badge is issued to you so that there is no confusion, if your badge says 9.30am you will join twenty-three other persons on the 9.30am bus, there is no confusion, then 9.45am an so on. The ticket that I had purchased at the visitor’s centre allowed me to visit both Knowth and Newgrange for 11 Euro. If 11 Euro is all you wish to spend then that is all your day at Bru Na Boinne will cost you. The comfortable shuttle bus ride takes only a few minutes to Knowth.
Upon arrival at Knowth you dismount the bus; you then have a few minutes to enjoy the scenery before being taken by a tour guide to the passage tomb and surrounding area. The tour guide is informative, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about the subject under consideration. Knowth is at the western end of the Bru Na Boinne area. 127 kerbstones surround the main passage tomb at Knowth, however, there are also at least eighteen smaller tombs dotted around the main tomb, two of these smaller tombs were built before the main passage tomb. These kerbstones are massive some with a weight of ten ton and more, when one is told that these stones were brought here 5000 years ago by pure man power, it is breath taking. You can see from my pictures of the exhibition how it has been suggested that these stones were moved across land.
In 1967/68 Professor George Eogan and his team of archaeologists discovered two of the tombs within the large central mound, one of the features of which is the great wealth of decoration on the structural stones. Ceremony and settlement existed at Knowth both before and long after the end of the Neolithic period. The guided tour of Knowth sets out the many epochs in Knowth’s complicated history. It highlights tremendous examples of Neolithic art and examines many possible interpretations of their meaning. There are standing stones and settings of what would be considered exotic stones outside the entrance of the tombs. A Timber Circle has also been reconstructed in a way that archaeologists believe it may have previously existed. This timber circle has been carbon dated to a time approximately 2,500 years BC. This wooden circle appears to have been a place for ceremony or indeed worship, there is no proof either way so it is up to each individual’s interpretation. It does however dominate the eastern side of the site at Knowth.
Inside the mound at Knowth visitors are allowed to take pictures, you are not allowed to take pictures inside the passage tomb at Newgrange. I have taken some pictures of the passage tomb in Knowth and I hope that you can see the incredible work and expertise that went into creating these passages over 5000 years ago. Inside the mound a room has been specially designed to allow visitors an opportunity to view the passages and also a huge ditch exists which was most likely dug out in early Christian times. There also remain on the Knowth site foundations of an early Christian house as well as many souterrains, of course the Christians came long after Knowth was constructed.
Following the guided tour at Knowth we were able to walk around the site at our leisure taking pictures and enjoying the incredible view. It is easy to understand why many people through many epochs chose this site to live, work and die; it is not so easy to understand what the people who lived here 5000 years ago were thinking about, their wonderful carvings on solid rock, their mastery of archaeology, structure and farming show that these were an intelligent, artistic and creative people who lived as one with mother earth. I try to imagine these massive rocks being ferried by wooded raft along the coast, up the BoyneRiver and then man handled up the slopes of Bru Na Boinne, what an incredible people. Today we call ourselves advanced and modern, yet compared to these people who had nothing but wood and stone, and who lived at one with nature, we may be everything but.
Having taken lots of pictures and enjoyed a can of coke on the slopes of Knowth it was time to return to the Visitor’s Centre and prepare for the next short journey to the largest of the passage tombs at Newgrange. The shuttle bus drops you back to the centre and you are given clear instructions as to when your shuttle will be leaving for Newgrange, you have your time sticker on your jumper just in case you forget. This system of stickers may seem childish and unnecessary, however, it is to the contrary, everyone knows exactly where they are going and when, so there is no pushing and shoving for places on the bus or in the tours of the tombs.
As I have said earlier Newgrange is the largest and the best known of the passage tombs, the reason Newgrange is known world wide is due to the winter solstice phenomenon. Newgrange was excavated between 1962 and 1975 by Professor M.J. O’Kelly who discovered the Roof Box through which the mid-winter sun penetrates into the inner chamber. This is a truly magnificent mystery as the exact location of the box only allows the sun to penetrate for 17 minutes each year, what an incredible construction for a people over 5000 years ago. Professor O’Kelly also, some would say, controversially, designed the reconstruction of the white quartz façade that is to the front of this massive passage tomb. Unlike the site at Knowth where the quartz was left on the ground possibly depicting a court yard or place of offering, Professor O’Kelly believed that the quartz had been a retaining wall that had fallen down over millennia.
From the site at Newgrange one can see the site at Dowth that remains open to view externally only; one can also see the bends and twists of the River Boyne in the valley below. It is easy to imagine why an ancient people would view this area as prime real estate. The significance of the 5000 year old entrance stone and roof box are explained by the tour guide as we make our way into the 5000-year-old passage tomb. When we make our way to the inner chamber the winter solstice phenomenon and burial ritual are explained. Following the guided tour we are again let lose with our cameras and imagination, Newgrange is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, the size of thee stones, especially when one considers how they were brought here are impressive to say the least. The mound covers a single tomb consisting of a long passage and cross shaped chamber. There are the remains of two smaller tombs immediately to the west of Newgrange and at least one and probably two to the east.
The landscape and view here are second to none, the maintenance and restructuring of the site are done with due diligence. To see the inner chamber of the Newgrange tomb that was built from massive rocks and sealed with grass sods, yet has remained water proof for over 5000 years, is an experience to be hold. How many of us have seen modern ‘marvels’ built and demolished in our own life times. Dowth is not as well known as Newgrange and Knowth, however, it is just as significant from an archaeological perspective. The mound at Dowth has 115 kerb stones and has two tombs facing westwards. There are also smaller satellite tombs to the east and south-west of the large mound. Like Knowth, Dowth appears to have been a focus of activity in the first millennium AD.
The area of Bru Na Boinne has an incredible history and one is touched by a sense of spiritually and historical awareness by visiting the site. Our forefathers were much more than hunter gathers, they were, from the evidence presented at Bru Na Boinne an intelligent, artistic, creative people who lived at one with the land and the environment. I could write all day about these wonderful people, however, I think my pictures should give you a clear understanding of how wonderful our forefathers really were. At 12.30pm it was time to get the shuttle bus back to the Visitor’s Centre, where I enjoyed some refreshments in the café. This was a great day, a great experience, the entire journey through five millennia took about three and one half hours, and it is a journey back in time not to be missed.
I finished my day out by travelling the short distance from the Visitor’s Centre to the village of Donore, where I enjoyed an excellent lunch in Daly’s Pub for the reasonable sum of 10 Euro. The beef, vegetables, potatoes and other fine foods are locally sourced and the meal gets a five start rating from me, five star being the highest merit. *****