MAJOR DISCOVERY: previously unrecorded henge-like monument found today near Fourknocks - a henge within a henge?

MAJOR DISCOVERY: previously unrecorded henge-like monument found today near Fourknocks - a henge within a henge?

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT - 7th JULY 2024

POSSIBLE UNRECORDED HENGE DISCOVERED NEAR FOURKNOCKS

DRONEHENGE 2? A copy of the Newgrange henge discovered in 2018?

Almost six years since I discovered the huge monument near Newgrange that has become known as Dronehenge, I’ve just found what looks like a copy of that monument, close to Fourknocks.

Aerial view of newly-discovered possible Late Neolithic henge near Fourknocks
An aerial view of the possible henge found today near Fourknocks. © Anthony Murphy

The hengiform structure was visible in my drone imagery captured today just 1.5km from the Neolithic passage-tomb of Fourknocks, in a landscape that looks like it was an attempt to replicate what was at Brú na Bóinne in the Neolithic and Late Neolithic periods, between 4,500 and 5,200 years ago.

‘Dronehenge 2’ (if I might call it that) is revealed in crop marks in a field in the Fourknocks landscape. It looks similar to Dronehenge at Newgrange, and even appears to have a similar rectangular ‘porch’ feature on its perimeter. There are indications of a huge circular ditch, with further concentric circles around it, just like Dronehenge 1. The new find may not be a henge. It might belong to a later period of prehistory. But it certainly does look like Dronehenge.

Oblique aerial view of the newly found 'Dronehenge 2'
An oblique view showing the crop marks of the possible henge within the larger embanked enclosure near Fourknocks. © Anthony Murphy

More fascinating still is the fact that this newly discovered enclosure lies within the remains of a much larger, embanked enclosure (embanked henge) not far from Fourknocks. Is this the first instance ever found in Ireland of a ‘henge within a henge’?

Although we have not had the same sort of drought that led to the many discoveries of 2018, it has been relatively dry lately and the lack of rainfall has resulted in crop marks being visible from the air.

Dronehenge at Newgrange Farm
The original 'Dronehenge' monument discovered by Anthony Murphy at Newgrange Farm in July 2018.

I find myself shaking with excitement, just as I felt when I found the original Dronehenge at Newgrange Farm on 10th July 2018. I look forward with eager anticipation to hearing the opinions of archaeologists on this new find.

The fragmented embanked enclosure is already recorded, but the ‘henge within a henge’ – the one I am tentatively calling Dronehenge 2 – is not recorded. I will report this discovery to the National Monuments Service first thing tomorrow. In fact, I will probably send them a report about it this evening.

Annotated image showing probable archaeological features of Dronehenge 2 near Fourknocks
My rough attempt to show the features of the known embanked henge (red), the new possible 'Dronehenge' (orange) and its rectangular 'porch' (yellow). © Anthony Murphy

I have made a rough attempt to highlight some of the visible features in the annotated image. The red markings show the outline of the known remnants of the embanked henge, which when it was complete in prehistory must have been over 200 metres in diameter. The orange markings show the visible portions of ‘Dronehenge 2’. The yellow markings show the rectangular porch-like feature which, if that’s what it is, make this a likely copy or attempt to replicate the Dronehenge at Newgrange.

Double concentric circle feature - possible four-poster
A possible 'four-poster'? Within the newly revealed 'Dronehenge 2' is a double circle which resembles the large four-poster monument at Newgrange Farm.

Of further excitement is that within the boundaries of Dronehenge 2 is another, smaller, double circle (annotated in the image above). Although it’s very difficult to be certain about anything when dealing with crop marks, this smaller double circle reminds me an awful lot of the giant ‘four-poster’ monument identified by Ken Williams and I in our drone images from Newgrange Farm in July 2018.

Could this smaller double circle be another of those Late Neolithic monuments which some archaeologists have suggested were used to support a platform on which the Neolithic people placed their dead, so that natural decomposition would take place in the open air?

Vertical aerial image of crop marks of possible henge near Fourknocks
An almost-vertical aerial image of the crop marks near Fourknocks showing what appears to be the remnants of a prehistoric enclosure, possibly a Late Neolithic henge.

For now, much of this is speculation and as I have only captured these images today they will require further scrutiny, especially by trained archaeologists, to better determine what type of monuments they might be.

But for now, I’m excited about the possibility that I might have found a Four-Poster within a Timber Henge within an Embanked Henge. Surely that’s unheard of anywhere else in the world?

Addendum:

My initial estimate in terms of the diameter of this probable monument is approximately 110 metres. Dronehenge at Newgrange is 154m including its 'annexe'.

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5 comments

Congratulations on this new find. Looking forward to further reports. 👀

Michael Ray Fox

Hi Niall. It’s quite something! I don’t bet but if I was a betting man I’d say almost certainly prehistoric. About 110 metres in diameter as far as I can ascertain. Very circular, and with features that make it look like a copy of Dronehenge. Will be interesting to see what the archaeologists have to say. You live in a very interesting landscape!

Anthony Murphy

Nice find!! Right in my back garden haha

Niall Andrews

Dear Anthony, It looks to me that there may be a smaller chamber on the North-East corner of this. Amazing work in your hunting. I was a friend of the late Liam de Paor who excavated Tara. This is exciting. X

Dwina Murphy-Gibb

Congratulations! So fascinating and I do hope some other experts chime in. How exciting for us all.

Yvette Tillema

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Anthony Murphy is the author of ten books, including works of non-fiction and fiction. As of 2024, all of these books are in print or available for digital download.