Friday, 3 April 2009

Ireland: Knoweth

The Great Mound was built over 5000 years ago, probably after the construction of Newgrange and before the construction of Dowth. The Great Mound at Knowth is similar in size to Newgrange and is surrounded by 18 smaller satellite mounds. The Great Mound has two passages with entrances on opposite sides, the western passage is 34 metres long and the eastern passage is 40 metre long, ending with a cruciform chamber.

In this aerial view of Knowth the enclosure on top of the mound is a Medieval Grange, the waterway to the rear is the River Boyne.
Knowth and the other megalithic sites of the Boyne Valley were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.
There is no direct access to the Knowth site, access is by guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre located close to the village of Donore on the south bank of the river Boyne. Guided Tours of Knowth are from April to October, the last Tour is 90 minutes before closing time of the Visitor Centre.
George Eogan and his team of Archaeologists began excavating the Great Mound and the smaller surrounding mounds at Knowth in 1962, five years later they discovered the first passage and chamber. Subsequent excavation revealed a second passage and chamber and a collection of decorated stones that comprises a quarter of Western European Neolithic art.
Secrets from the Grave - Irish Times article where George Eogan talks about uncovering 18 satellite tombs around the great mound at Knowth. They also found evidence of pottery, houses and flint artefacts from a pre-passage-tomb stage of early Neolithic settlement around 4000 BC. Lunar Maps at Knowth - the carvings on orthostat 47 at the end of the chamber in the eastern passage have been identified by Philip J. Stooke as lunar maps. The right-hand section appears to be a map of the lunar maria. The remaining two sections of the carving are simpler but crudely similar to the first, sharing the overall arc shape of the maria surrounding the lunar central highlands as well as an isolated spot representing Mare Crisium.
Engraved Knowth Kerbstone K15, possibly a sundial or lunar calendar.Calendar stone - a kerbstone at Knowth which shows that the people who constructed the great mound were well aware of what we call the 'Metonic Cycle' of the moon.Lunar Stone - a 5000-year-old stone device used to calculate the lengths of the lunar tropical month, synodic month, and the length of the year.
The eastern passage of the Great Mound at Knowth measures 40 metres, making it the longest megalithic passage in Western Europe. At the end of the passage is a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof similar in style to Newgrange.

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