Friday, May 3, 2013

"1,000 Years Older than Stonehenge"

After sleeping like the dead Wednesday night, we were much more awake yesterday.  We caught a tour bus to Brú na Bóinne a little before noon to see Knowth and Newgrange.  Constructed around 3200 B.C., much about these neolithic structures is unknown.  They were associated with death (bodies were found in them) as well as astronomical events (several of the passageways line up with the sun during the equinoxes).

The tour guides emphasized endlessly that these passage tombs are 500 years older than the pyramids and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.  They were also excessively fond of saying that the art on the stones "was open to all of our interpretations and all of those interpretations were correct."  I'm not quite sure what our interpretations were, but whatever they were, they were the right ones.

Despite the repetition, the sites are pretty cool.  Knowth has many passage tombs and other mounds:
Newgrange has only one.  However, unlike Knowth, we were able to go inside it.  Of course, photography wasn't permitted so I don't have a picture.  We were also allowed to walk on top of this large mound to see where later civilizations had built small settlements (Newgrange is only about 80 meters in diameter, so when I say small, I mean small!). 
The amount of work it took to make these is impressive.  The large stones that lined the outside of the mounds (seen in the first picture above) were brought from a location 20 km away.  It is thought that they were rafted down the river and then log-rolled uphill over a considerable distance to the monument's location.  

Whatever their real purpose, clearly they were important structures.


  1. Very cool! One of my favorite things to do when I learn about some time in history is to think about what was going on in another part of the world. I just looked up 3200 BC, and realized that this was during the very beginnings of Minoian and Egyptian civilization, and when they were just starting to write in Mesopotamia. Also, I'm jealous that you saw the book of Kells. :) Thanks for the updates--definitely giving me ideas for where Max and I should go someday!

  2. Paul is also fascinated by other things going on in various time periods of history - for example, that Newgrange was ancient by the time the Parthenon was built!