Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb

Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb in the Boyne Valley
Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb in the Boyne Valley - Ireland's Ancient East

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange and Knowth)

Visitor Information and Online Booking

The Megalithic Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Fourknocks, Loughcrew and Tara are located in present-day County Meath in Ireland's Ancient East. The Boyne Valley Mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth were built around 3,200BC making them older than Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Newgrange - aerial view Built by Neolithic farming communities about 5,000 years ago, the passage tombs have clear astronomical alignments such as the Winter Solstice Sunrise at Newgrange and the Equinox Sunrise at Loughcrew.

Judging from the splendour and magnificence of Newgrange and Knowth it is likely that these temples of the ancestors were places of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, much as present day cathedrals are places of worship where dignitaries may be laid to rest.

There is a lively debate about whether these wonderful megalithic structures were built primarily as burial tombs, sacred temples or astronomical observatories. While passage tomb is the traditional archaeological description for Newgrange and similar structures, chambered cairn or passage mound are the descriptions favoured by those who consider the term passage tomb too narrow.

Megalithic Art from Fourknocks Passage Tomb The large stones surrounding and inside the Passage Tombs are decorated with Megalithic Art such as spirals, concentric circles, triangles, zigzags and images which have been interpreted as the sun or the moon.

Irish passage tombs tend to occur in clusters traditionally described as a Necropolis or cemetery. The Boyne cluster includes Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth and Townleyhall. The other great clusters in County Meath are on the hills around Loughcrew.

The ancient Boyne Valley passage tomb mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth have been designated World Heritage Site status by UNESCO and attract 200,000 visitors per year. The sites and Visitor Centre are managed by the OPW (Office of Public Works).

For Group Tours and Private Tours including transport from Dublin to Newgrange, Knowth and the Boyne Valley, see Tours.

New Grange Megalithic Passage Tomb
Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Entrance Stone at Newgrange Passage Tomb Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Newgrange is open to the public with controlled access to the passage and chamber. Tours of Newgrange start at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre located near the village of Donore, Co. Meath.

Knowth Kerbstone 5 Knowth has two passages and is surrounded by seventeen satellite cairns. Knowth is open to the public however there is no public access to the interior passages and chambers. Tours of Knowth also start at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre.

Dowth Kerbstone 51 Dowth is the only one of the three large Brú na Bóinne Passage Tombs which is not accessible from the Visitor Centre situated on the south bank of the Boyne river. Visitors to Dowth can drive directly to the site on the north bank of the river, a few minutes drive from the N51 Slane / Drogheda road.

Entrance to Fourknocks Megalithic Passage Tomb
Fourknocks with its short passage leading into a wide pear-shaped chamber is in similar style to Tombs in Portugal. Just inside the main chamber to the left of the entrance is one of the few possible representations of a human face from the Neolithic Period in ancient Ireland.

Megalithic Art - Loughcrew, Co. Meath Loughcrew Cairns form the largest complex of Megalithic structures in Ireland. The Cairns contain symbolic engravings called Megalithic Art, similar in style to Newgrange and Knowth. Like other Passage Tombs in ancient Ireland, some of the cairns have astrological alignments.

Tara - Mound of the Hostages The Hill of Tara was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland in the first millennium AD however Tara is also the site of a Passage Tomb known as the Mound of the Hostages dating back to between 2,500 BC and 3,000 BC.

Boyne Valley Private Day Tour

Boyne Valley Tours
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours. Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire. Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland. Book Now