Brú na Bóinne


Brú na Bóinne

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne


State Party = IRL
Type = Cultural
Criteria = i, iii, iv
ID = 659
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1993
Session = 17th
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/659

"Brú na Bóinne" (Irish for "Palace of the Boyne") is a World Heritage Site in County Meath, Ireland, and is one of the largest and most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe. It is a complex of Neolithic chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures, some dating from as early as 3500 - 3200 BC. The site predates the Great Pyramids and was built with sophistication and a knowledge of science and astronomy, which is most evident in the passage tomb of Newgrange. The site is often referred to as the "Bend of the Boyne", and this is often (incorrectly) taken to be a translation of "Brú na Bóinne" ("Palace" of the Boyne). In 1690 it was the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne.

The site covers 780ha and contains around 40 passage tombs as well as other prehistoric sites and later features. The majority of the monuments are concentrated on the north side of the river. The most well-known sites within "Brú na Bóinne" are the impressive passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth all famous for their significant collections of megalithic art. Each stands on a ridge within the river bend and two of the tombs, Knowth and Newgrange appear to contain stones re-used from an earlier monument at the site. There is no in situ evidence for earlier activity at the site however save for the spotfinds of flint tools left by Mesolithic hunters.

Numerous other enclosure and megalith sites have been identified within the river bend and have been given simple letter designations such as the M Enclosures. In addition to the three famous tombs, several other ceremonial sites constitute the complex including:

* Cloghalea Henge
* Townleyhall passage grave
* Monknewtown henge and ritual pond
* Newgrange cursus

Each of the three main megalith sites have significant archaeoastronomical significance. Newgrange and Dowth have Winter Solstice solar alignments, while it is claimed Knowth has an Equinox solar alignment. In addition, the immediate environs of the main sites have been investigated for other possible alignments. The layout and design of the Brú na Bóinne complex across the valley has also been studied for astronomical significance.

As well as being surrounded its southern, western and eastern sides by the Boyne, one of the Boyne's tributaries, the Mattock runs along the northern edge, almost completely surrounding Brú na Bóinne with water. All but two of the prehistoric sites are within this river isthmus.

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre

All access to Newgrange and Knowth is by guided tour only: tours begin at the Visitor Centre in Donore, Co. Meath.

ource

Lewis-Williams, D and Pearce, D, "Inside the Neolithic Mind", Thames and Hudson, London, 2005, ISBN 0500051380

External links

* [http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/659 UNESCO's World Heritage Site description]
* [http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/MidlandsEastCoast/BrunaBoinneVisitorCentreNewgrangeandKnowth/ Official website link]
* [http://www.astroarchaeology.org/boynevalley.html International Institute of Astroarchaeology]
* [http://www.theboynevalley.com Boyne Valley Portal Website]


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