Brú Na Bóinne

Brú Na Bóinne is a destination every visitor should be sure to enjoy. The site itself is located a mere two kilometres west of Donore, County Meath, Ireland. It is a network of Neolithic standing stones, chamber tombs and other prehistoric ruins spread over almost 2,000 acres (7.8 square kilometres).

Many of the ruins date back to the 35th to 32nd centuries BC. Despite how ancient the Brú Na Bóinne is, its complexity and sophistication of science, architecture and astronomy is apparent. The most famous, Newgrange, is world-renowned.

The Brú Na Bóinne consists of several prehistoric sites, however the essence of this extensive site is the 40 passage grave. Along the north side of the river, the larger amount of monuments can be discovered.

Bru Na Boinne

flickr image by happyjed1

The internationally popular sites within the Brú Na Bóinne include the outstanding passage grave of Newgrange, but also the less famous graves of Dowth and Knowth. Each of these extraordinary ruins are celebrated for their generous array of antediluvian art. Each stands atop a ridge near the river bend, however only Knowth and Newgrange look as if they may have been constructed of stones re-used from earlier monuments. Interestingly, there is no evidence of such earlier activity, excluding a few basic tools apparently left by earlier Mesolithic tribesmen. In addition, the south, west and east sides of the Boyne River enclose this amazing Brú Na Bóinne. One of the Boyne’s main tributaries, the Mattock, also runs along the northern perimeter. Thus, this prehistoric site is almost entirely surrounded by water. Many experts have hypothesised on the significance of this.

Bru Na Boinne

flickr image by miss.libertine

Experts, however, have noted that the Brú Na Bóinne was visited frequently throughout not only the Bronze Age, but also during both the Iron Age and Medieval periods. In 1962, O’Kelly conducted famous excavations and found numerous artefacts dating back to several different periods. It should be noted that this river bend has been discovered to be the home of many other megalithic sites as well.

Visitors will be interested to see that, over and above the famous tombs, the Brú Na Bóinne also holds a number of other historic ceremonial sites, such as Cloghalea Henge, Monknewtown Henge and ritual pool, Townleyhall passage grave and Newgrange Cursus. While Newgrange is the primary mound within the Boyne Valley cemetery, both Knowth and Dowth are of similar dimension and importance.

For those whose interests have been stimulated, it is important to note that each of these three main sites contain significant astronomical meaning. Two of the passage grave sites have been discovered to be in perfect winter solstice solar alignment, while the third seems to be set apart for the equinox solar alignment.

Bru Na Boinne

flickr image by happyjed1

The Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre is of particular interest for tourists. Here, staff members are dedicated to educating and interpreting these remarkable monuments. The Centre offers visitors a wide range of inspiring and interactive exhibitions, including a full scale reproduction of the chamber at the World Heritage site of Newgrange, an interactive exhibition on the Brú Na Bóinne area, as well as a complete model of the tombs at Knowth. Visitors are likely to benefit from an audio-visual performance as well. The Visitor Centre also offers access for those physically challenged, as well as a tourist office, gift shop and lovely tea rooms. There is a large car park and picnic area available, but there is no luggage storage facility. All admissions are through the Visitor Centre only and direct access to individual mounds or monuments is prohibited.

All visitors are taken from the Visitor Centre to the monuments via a shuttle bus. This is a hugely popular tourist destination and visitors may experience delays, especially during popular tourist times of the year. Due to the close proximity of the core of the monuments, places are limited to around 700 per day. These spots may fill up quickly during peak tourist seasons. A local bus service runs from Drogheda to the Visitor Centre through Donore village, however the bus service varies depending on the season. Travellers are advised to look into the Irish National bus system when planning their trip.

Regardless of whether you are a staunch history buff or just curious visitor, the Brú Na Bóinne is an interesting and educational location to visit on your next trip to Ireland.

flickr image by Dave Keeshan

Date posted: 19th September, 2012

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