The eastern passage and chamber inside the great mound at Knowth
is cruciform (cross-shaped) like the passage and chamber at Newgrange.
The passage is 40 metres long, over double the length of the Newgrange passage.
The basin stone is in the right recess of the chamber, orthostat 54 the stone at
the back of the recess is richly engraved with symbols.
The Eastern passage
and chamber was re-discovered in 1968 by the archaeologist George
Eogan, he describes the event as follows.
"I moved along the passage, which was a metre wide and
slightly more in height. After a couple of metres, obstructions
arose, due to a downward sloping capstone and inward leaning
orthostats. Having got past these, we came to a well-preserved
stretch, but soon had to go on hands and knees again along the
stone-littered floor. Farther on we could again stand upright. In
this area was a cracked capstone highly decorated with chevrons, and
in addition orthostats on both sides now had megalithic art.
But this was only the beginning of many stunning features that still
awaited us. We continued our exploration, rather impatiently because
of more hindrance caused by inward leaning orthostats. These touched
each other at the top, and a void above had dry-stone walling above
I now thought that the passage consisted of a two-tier
structure, and in my excitement and probably not considering the dangers,
I climbed up to the “upper” passage. In fact I was now walking along
and over a spread of cairn derived stones. This upper “floor” was
above the tops of the orthostats and it sloped gradually upwards. It
suddenly came to an abrupt halt, and I felt as if I were suspended in
mid-air!. But still not suspecting what might exist before me, I flashed
my lamp around. And there was an astonishing sight: a great space with
corbelled sides narrowed beehive fashion to a single closing slab at the top.
That was only part of the structure. When I flashed the light downward,
what I saw was even more remarkable, a great chamber with a rounded ground
plan. I descended into the chamber, how I did so I cannot think, but I must have jumped two metres or more
from the top of the orthostats. The chamber provided further excitements.
Two side recesses and an end recess opened off it, making it cruciform in
plan, and the orthostats as well as some of the overlying corbels were
elaborately decorated. One of the side recesses had a portal-like
arrangement consisting of two tall jambs again with decoration. I entered
the recess. There was more art, but something even more exciting: a large
stone basin over a metre in diameter, ornamented on the outside with
parallel horizontal scoring and on the inside with arcs and rays."
Laser scan of Knowth passage tomb
Boyne Valley Private Day Tours
Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour:
Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice,
Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick let a Paschal fire in 433