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Dowth, Knowth & Newgrange

Ireland 2008

View Ireland on spec (2008) on Stefmuts's travel map.

large_1297706_14348108455769.jpgToday we start of with taking some pictures in Carlington, Abbey, tower , city gate, the Mint and near the harbour King Johns Castle. Then off to Monasterboice, a 5th century settlement where there are three high crosses and a round tower, Muiredach’s Cross should be specially beautiful. The route was more difficult, the route planner gave destination reached in the middle of the highway (?) but we did find the site. The round tower is roof-less and there are also ruins of two churches. Near the tower is the 6,5m high West high cross and in the centre of the cemetery the beautiful decorated Muiredach’s Cross, North high cross is tucked away in the back and less decorated.

Then off to Newgrange [Newgrange-travel-guide-1309872], another ‘must see’ on my list.large_1297706_14348113229302.jpgMonasterboice, West high crossIt’s Europe’s most famous megalithic Passage Tomb dated around 3200BC which makes it older than Stonehenge. On our way to Newgrange we see the Dowth tomb, my book says not accessible to visitors so we don’t stop there, doesn’t seem much to see anyway. Dowth was unprofessional excavated in 1847, which left a crater in the centre of the mound, we later learn that the site itself can be visited and only the passage chambers are not open for the public. At the Newgrange visitors centre there are also tours to Knowth, one of the other important sites besides Newgrange. We decide to take the Knowth tour and a good choise it was! A bus took us to the site where we were greeted by a guide. The guide had a whole lot of story to tell in too short a time, about how the site over the years has been occupied by the builders, the early Christians and the Normans who even had their settlement on the mound.large_1297706_14348113868488.jpg The funeral ritual according to the experts: only the bones were after the cremation interred in the tomb. The tomb itself we were not allowed in, but we could go inside the corridor a bit, and we could take some pictures there. The site consists of a large double tomb hall and several smaller passage graves around it. The large tomb has ornate stones all around and the finest specimens are placed at both entrances. These stones are 1/3 of all decorated stones found in Europe of this age, so a really special site. Unfortunately, after the tour there was not much time to roam around on our own.

To Newgrange again by bus. Here the ornate entrance of the passage tomb has been restored as the specialists think and calculated it must have once looked like. White quartz stone with rounded granite boulders.large_1297706_1434811371447.jpg At the entrance is a stone carved with a three spiral shape that is adopted by the archaeological service as its logo. You can visit inside the tomb, but no photos or video, so I put my camera away (I know myself)

Through the gate with its skylight through the narrow corridor to the burial chamber, here are three richly decorated niches, in the eastern niche is a stone basin and the ceiling is decorated with spiral and zigzag shapes. In the days around December 21 (winter solstice) the sun shines in attendance about 17 minutes through the skylight on the northern wall of the recess. This was discovered in 1967, there were already stories about the midsummer solstice as at Stonehenge so they gathered around on June 21, but nothing happened. Then someone came up with the idea to come back on December 21.large_1297706_14348125139572.jpg

In the western niche again the three spiral shape, just like at the entrance and on the outside at the rear. To get an idea of what exactly happens at sunrise around December 21 they turned off the lights and when everyone is a little used to the dark sunrise is simulated by shining a light through the skylight. The real event must be a very special thing to experience, which is however only for a small select group of people. Each year there is a lottery held among people who want to experience it.

On the way out we can see the ornate stonework in the walls, upon entering your eyes are a little less habituated to the dim light and you don't see them. Back outside my camera clicked just in front of the entrance ... I just can't help myself!


Posted by Stefmuts 04:23 Archived in Ireland Tagged landscapes castle megalithic high_cross

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