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Established 16/3/2000

Star circleKnowth (Cnoghba) - megalithic sister site of Newgrange Star circle

Knowth from the air

Knowth from the air.

While Newgrange is by far the most famous of the three Boyne Valley passage-tombs, Knowth is by far the most impressive in terms of megalithic art, scale and layered history. Knowth contains one quarter of all known megalithic art in Europe, has two passages, and a total of 18 smaller "satellite mounds". The site was excavated and thoroughly investigated archaeologically over a period of 40 years and is now open to the public who can visit through the Brú na Bóinne Visitors' Centre in nearby Donore.

There are two passages at Knowth (Newgrange has one) which face, roughly speaking, towards the east and towards the west. A long-held theory that the passages were aligned towards sunrise and sunset on the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes has, in recent years, been found to be untrue. A new theory, backed by scientific data about the orientation of these passages, points towards a lunar function for Knowth.

This lunar function is backed up by research which claims that the builders of this monument had a good working knowledge of the complicated movements of the Moon. Such knowledge would have enabled the builders to predict eclipses and other astronomical events. Some of the many carvings on the 127 kerbstones at Knowth could be representations of lunar counts and calculations.

Megalithic art inside Knowth

Megalithic art inside Knowth. Click here to see the decorated kerbs,

It is probably Knowth's astonishing quantity of art which makes it more impressive than Newgrange. Many of the kerbstones are decorated, while there is significant decoration in both passages and inside some of the satellite monuments.

There was significant activity at Knowth over a long period of time. Archaeologist, Professor George Eogan, found that there were 10 separate phases of activity at the site from the earliest times to the modern era. There may have been settlement at Knowth as early as 6,000 years ago.

During the Iron Age, the site was fortified and a huge ditch dug around the mound. In later times, Knowth became a significant site as the capital of the kingdom of Brega.

There are some very ancient myths about Knowth and how it got its name. One story relates that a noble woman, Bua, was buried there and the "great hill" was built up over her. These placename myths are still in existence today, in a collection called the Dindshenchas.

The flint macehead found at Knowth

The flint macehead found at Knowth.

There are a total of 18 smaller satellite mounds around the main mound, many of which had their own stone passages. Some also contain megalithic art.

A number of very significant finds and artefacts have been uncovered during 40 years of excavations at Knowth. A flint macehead, a stone phallus and a giant stone basin are among the interesting items found.

During the late stages of excavation, Mythical Ireland gained exclusive access to Knowth, thanks to the archaeologist, Prof. Eogan. Some features on this site include a comprehensive pictorial overview of the decorated kerbstones at Knowth, as well as exclusive photos of megalithic art in the western passage.

Also featured are studies of the sunlight penetrating the western passage around the time of the equinox.

A four-feet granite stone basin in the Eastern passage of Knowth may be engraved with a map of the city of Atlantis, as Plato described it. The three concentric circles match the three concentric lakes of Atlantis, according to a Swedish academic.

Astronomy at Knowth
Calendar stone - a kerbstone at Knowth which shows that the people who constructed this great mound were well aware of what we call the 'Metonic Cycle' of the moon.
Lunar Stone - a 5,000-year-old stone device used to calculate the lengths of the lunar tropical month, synodic month, and the length of the year.
Knowth solution? - "Finding Easter at Knowth", by Gillies MacBain.
Equinox sunlight - the sun shining into the western passage at Knowth on the Autumn Equinox.
Archaeological & Astronomical Legacy: a comprehensive article on the major discoveries at Knowth over the last 40 years.
Shadow sundial? - as the sun penetrates Knowth's west passage in early March, a dramatic standing stone shadow effect takes place outside.

Knowth Kerbstones

Knowth kerbstones art - the most comprehensive photographical presentation of the art on the Knowth kerbstones - nearly 60 photographs - most of the decorated stones are here.
Another lunar stone? - Exclusive photographs of a kerbstone uncovered during final excavations at Knowth in 2000. The stone is now hidden from view due to reconstruction work.
Megalithic sundial - this photograph shows a small neolithic sundial carved onto one of the kerbstones at Knowth.
Kerbstone 5 - a beautiful stone with luni-solar carvings, one of the most impressive stones at this ancient site.
Miscellaneous - further artwork on the ancient kerbstones.
Inside Knowth
Knowth west - Another Mythical Ireland exclusive - pictures from inside the western passage of Knowth.
Other photographs

The entrances during excavation - Photographs of the entances to Knowth's two passages which face east and west.
Inside Site 8 - fascinating view from inside the passage of one of Knowth's many satellite tombs.

All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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