There are many archaeological monuments and features in the Brú na Bóinne complex. Some of these are very obvious in the landscape – there are passage-tombs, mounds, enclosures, standing stones and cursus monuments. However, others that are less obvious provide archaeologists with many questions.
The curious archaeological feature in the foreground of this drone image is known to archaeologists only as ME019-050. This is its record number in the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP). In the RMP, it is classified simply as an "earthwork" and is described thus:
Slightly raised circular area defined by slight scarp (diam. c. 30m) (O'Kelly 1978, 50, site A1).
I've been flying the drone over the Bend of the Boyne recently and have been enthralled with how much extra detail is visible in certain monuments and archaeological features when the sun is extremely low in the winter sky. This is a case in point. I've flown over ME019-050 before and taken photos of it and it looked simply like a circular mound with a flat top.
But what is it? My latest drone images appear to show what looks like a "mound within a mound". In fact, it looks like there's a very small mound or circular shape within a larger, flat-topped mound. It's intriguing. It's unlike anything else in the Bend of the Boyne complex.
Obviously with the proximity of this monument to Newgrange and so many other passage-tombs, one is tempted to speculate that's what it might be. However, if it is a passage-tomb, it's very unusual. Could it be that the smaller raised area is the remains of a cairn over a chamber? And the rest of the mound/cairn has been denuded over time?
It looks similar in some respects to Rathcroghan mound, which is also a raised, flat-topped mound. Could we be looking at something that was built in the Iron Age? Or even something Neolithic that was later altered in the Iron Age?
ME019-050 is just one of many features in the landscape that keep the interests of archaeologists nicely piqued. In the past decade, remote sensing techniques have revealed up to 200 possible monuments and archaeological features. ME019-050, although its presence has been long known about, presents a mystery to archaeologists that is yet to be solved. What is it and when was it built?
We cannot answer that question right now. But it would be interesting to find out.
In the main image at the top of the page, you can also see Mound A in the field behind ME019-050. Mound A has been protected from damage by a hedge around it. But also surrounding it is the remains of a large circular enclosure, or henge, just one of several in the Bend of the Boyne complex.
Enter the ‘Ancient Sites’ section of this blog for a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the megalithic and sacred sites of Ireland. Find out all about the Stone Age and prehistoric ruins and learn more about the possible functions and alignments of these sites. Visit the great temples of Brú na Bóinne, the Hill of Tara, the ancient cairns of Loughcrew among many others.
Explore the ancient myths, legends and folklore of Ireland and their meaning. Read the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, or the place-name myths in the Dindshenchas. Learn about how the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians came to Ireland and how the early texts describe various invasions of prehistoric Éire. Hear about Fionn and the Fianna, and discover how some myths might contain information about astronomy and the stars.
There is no doubt that the ancient megalith builders had a substantial knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars through the heavens. Learn more about just how complex and impressive this knowledge was. There is evidence that the people of the Neolithic knew about the 19-year Metonic cycle of the moon, as well as being able to predict eclipses.