Not far from the site of Newgrange is Knowth, an archaeological site consisting of a corridor tomb dating from the Neolithic period. Situated in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, this site is believed to be part of a group of corridor tombs known as ‘Brú na Bóinne’. Consisting of a mound of more than one hectare, and countless tombs, Knowth would be the largest tomb in Brú na Bóinne, and would offer a rich heritage of life in the Neolithic period .
The Knowth site is believed to have been built in the Neolithic period, and is thought to have been used for burial purposes up to the Bronze Age. At the end of this period, Knowth fell into disuse and was forgotten. During these centuries, the site suffered some degradation due to numerous landslides of the mounds, blocking access to the two corridors. A few graves were dug here and there, but Knowth only really took shape again at the beginning of the Christian era, when the place was officially inhabited and named “capital of the northern kingdom of Brega”. Ditches and secret underground passages were dug there. Today we can find traces of Christian graffiti dating back to this period.
At the time of the Norman Invasions, Knowth was converted into a castle mound, then into a monastic place. Until it was completely forgotten…
In 1941, Professor McAllister undertook a few excavations of this site, and was succeeded by Georges Fogan in 1962, who launched a much larger excavation, allowing the entire extent of the Knowth site to be discovered. It was in 1967 that the entrance to the two corridors and the set of engravings were discovered.
Knowth is the largest tomb in Brú na Bóinne. It consists of a gigantic mound surrounded by ashlars (there are 127 of them), most of them decorated with engraved spirals and circles.
Inside, 2 independent corridors each lead to 2 separate chambers, one essentially decorated with engraved circles, the other having cavities allowing the remains of the deceased to be deposited.
All around, there are as many as 40 cistus graves, mostly containing the bodies of women. Only one tomb would have particularly caught the attention of archaeologists: a tomb containing the bodies of two decapitated men, buried with a dice game, would have been found.
The visit must be accompanied by a guide who will introduce you to all the subtleties of the site. Allow a good hour and a half for the tour of Knowth…