The summer of 2018 will be remembered for many years to come as one of the most exciting times for archaeology. I'm delighted to have been personally involved in what has been described as the largest discovery of them all, a late Neolithic henge near Newgrange, revealed by parch marks in a wheat field following two months of drought.
The publicity that resulted from the Newgrange henge discovery was astonishing. The story of how myself and Ken Williams found the Newgrange henge was reported all over the globe, in newspapers, on television, on websites, and was viral on social media.
Another friend of mine, Matthew Kelly, who runs a company that develops search and rescue software for drones (DroneSAR), decided on foot of the publicity to send his drone up at the site of (the now destroyed) Ireland's Stonehenge at Carnbeg, near Dundalk, in Co. Louth.
He found no sign of any remnants of that once-great monument (documented by antiquarian Thomas Wright in 1748), but when he turned his drone around, he saw circular marks in other fields. And within a short time, Matthew had discovered no fewer than TEN "new" or previously unrecorded monuments, many of them thought to be Bronze Age ring barrows.
He reported the discoveries to an archeaologist, Steve McGlade, and the monuments he discovered are now listed in the National Monuments Database, viewable on the Historic Environment Viewer.
Now the story takes another twist. Matthew and I were asked, in September, to appear on RTE television to discuss our summer discoveries. Beforehand, Matthew came to visit me at home and showed me some of the footage from Dundalk that hadn't been included in his YouTube video of the finds (below):
Matthew discovered no less than EIGHT circular structures in one field, in the townland of Red Cow, and a further two at Glebe.
But here's the twist. While watching the unedited footage, I noticed a further TWO circles in the field of eight, and yet another one across the M1 motorway, in a separate field. So the total went from 10 (eight plus two) to 13 (ten plus two plus one!).
I'm so delighted, honoured and humbled to have not only been involved in the discovery of a lifetime at Newgrange, but that this discovery inspired others to go and find hidden archaeology. Matthew was inspired to fly at Dundalk having read my blog about Ireland's Stonehenge a few years back. You can watch a video of our TV appearance below:
Below is some footage I shot of the Newgrange henge within a few days of its discovery. The monument is believed to be the footprint of a henge or pallisaded enclosure, dating probably to the late Neolithic, some time around 2900-2500BC. In other words, just a couple of centuries younger than the world famous Newgrange passage-tomb, which lies just 750 metres away. The monument was revealed during a prolonged drought, lasting two months, during which there had been no rain.
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.