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Established 16/3/2000

The passage entrances at Knowth, Co. Meath

Eastern entrance concrete wall

The eastern entrance to Knowth with its great entrance stone. This photo was taken in July 1999 - excavations at Knowth have been ongoing for the past 40 years. Part of the site is already open to tourists, and since this photo was taken a metal footbridge was added to allow tourists into the site. There has been much debate about the concrete wall which can be seen in this photograph. Some researchers, myself included, think it is inappropriate at a site which is over 5,000 years old, and especially in light of research by Martin Brennan and Philip Stooke (and others), suggesting that the passage may have accepted light from both the sun and the moon at different times of the year.
When the eastern entrance was excavated, it looked vastly different than it does today. The rare photograph on right shows the entrance as it appeared when it was being excavated. Chief Archaeologist, Professor George Eogan, defended the new concrete structure in a Sunday Times article on Oct. 22nd, 2000. Prof. Eogan told the newspaper that the wall was 'built to protect structures called souterrains at the entrance to the eastern passage.' Others have described the concrete as 'very insensitive'. If the sun/moon light shone into Knowth east, it is important that the integrity of the original structure should be restored so that any astronomical function can be observed. East entrance during excavation
Footbridge at Knowth east The footbridge (shown on left) which was added during 2000 will allow tourists to enter a small 'bunker' (concrete room) which is located just inside the eastern entrance to the left. Given that there were 289,000 day visitors to Newgrange in 1999, and a good deal of these were admitted to the passage of Newgrange, it should be expected that large numbers of tourists will be allowed into Knowth over this bridge. Some have questioned the need to bring people inside such an ancient passage. I would contend that a reconstruction of the passage at the nearby visitor's centre would have been sufficient to show people what the interior of the site looks like.

Western entrance

This picture shows the western entrance at Knowth, taken in July 1999. The picture shows that a lot of modern building materials have been used in the reconstruction of the site - including polystyrene foam blocks (visible on the roof of the western passage concrete casing at top of photo), concrete, blocks and other materials. When this photo was taken, Knowth looked more like a modern building site than a Neolithic passage mound dating to 3,200BC.

Excavations are now winding up, and most of the site is already open to visitors. The west entrance looks completely different now that it is complete - see pictures here.

All Knowth pictures taken with the kind permission of Professor George Eogan, head of excavations at Knowth.

Back to the Knowth page

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