"A fascinating insight into Ireland's ancient burial sites" - Irish Independent
passage entrances at Knowth, Co. Meath
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.
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.
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.
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.
Knowth pictures taken with the kind permission of Professor George
Eogan, head of excavations at Knowth.