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Ancient Ireland: Brú na Bóinne

Updated: May 24, 2022

One of the things that I find so fascinating about Ireland is the range and depth of history. The people have witnessed and rebelled against centuries of outside conquerors from Vikings to British nobility. I am personally drawn to the energy of ancient pagan sites and the mysticism that surrounds such places. The Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage site, located in Boyne Valley, County Meath includes the ancient monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. This site has more Neolithic art than anywhere else in the Western world.

Brú na Bóine literally means Palace/Valley of the Boyne and is centered around the River Boyne. It is considered to be one of the most important prehistoric landscapes. The site is dominated by the three major passage tombs built about 5,000 years ago. At the time, the area would have been populated mainly by farmers but the construction of at least 40 passage tombs indicate the community had a sophisticated knowledge of engineering and astronomy, as well as an appreciation for art. Experts have found evidence that shows a complex society full of many rituals and ceremonies, especially regarding death.

Although the sites stopped being used for homes, they continued to be used for ceremonial purposes. Henges were constructed during the Bronze Age. Even early Christian ceremonies happened here. Over time, the site fell into disuse and time covered the monuments until 1699 when they were rediscovered by the local landowner. The site became officially protected in 1882.