RETURN TO MAIN PAGE
Newgrange, in County Meath, crouches on a rise just north of the River Boyne. It is the focal point for a ceremonial area and megalithic cemetery that is 5,000 years old. The tombs' passage is perfectly aligned to mark the Winter Solstice. Newgrange is one of the best examples in Western Europe of the type of monument known as a passage-grave or passage-tomb. According to the most reliable Carbon 14 dating techniques, Newgrange was constructed around 3200BC. This means it is at least 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years older than its British counterpart, Stonehenge.
The Boyne Valley contains the largest and most decorated megalithic sites in all of Ireland and has been described as "the largest and most important expression of prehistoric megalithic art in Europe". The large Megalithic sites were built over 5000 years ago between 3800 and 3200 BC, built before both Stonehenge in England and the great pyramids in Egypt. Within a three square mile radius in the Boyne Valley are grouped more than 30 prehistoric monuments including the great passage tombs and their satellite structures, standing stones, barrows and other enclosures. The great sites of the Boyne Valley include Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Loughcrew, Fourknocks and the Hill of Tara. Neolithic communities built these sites over earlier sacred spots and it is suspected that they were used for a combination of different purposes, including use as burial tombs, sacred temples and astronomical observatories.
HILL OF SLANE
Steeped in myth and history, the Hill of Slane towers 521 feet above the surrounding countryside, offering breathtaking views. On a clear day, the mounds of Newgrange and Knowth can be seen to the east, with the town of Drogheda and the Irish Sea beyond. The Hill of Slane was a very important site in prehistoric pagan times. The Hill has since become synonymous with Saint Patrick. It is here that Patrick is said to have lit his 'Paschal Fire', in direct defiance of the Pagan Druids at the nearby Hill of Tara. Seeing the flames, the Druids proclaimed that if Patrick’s fire was not put out immediately, it would burn forever in Ireland.... The rest is history! Amongst the interesting ruins on the Hill is 'The Motte', a mound that is probably the burial mound of Sláine, the prehistoric Fir Bolg King. The Motte is mysteriously aligned with other ancient sites, and may have had an astronomical significance. The Hill of Slane is also associated with a mythical healing well, purportedly used by the Tuatha Dé Danann to heal their wounds during battle.
HILL OF TARA
Meath is a county rich in Irish mythology, heritage and plays host to some of the most beautiful rural landscapes on the Emerald Isle. Though best known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, the Hill of Tara has been an important site since the late Stone Age when a passage-tomb was constructed there. Tara was at the height of its power both a political and religious centre in the early centuries after Christ. As you walk this historic hill, it is well to keep in mind that in prehistory and historic times, 142 Kings are said to have reigned in the name of Tara. The coronation stone called The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny has rested here down the ages. And it was here that the most powerful of Irish Kings held their great inaugural feasts and were approved by Earth Mother Goddesss Maeve. In ancient Irish religion and mythlogy, Tara was revered as a dwelling of the gods and an entrance place to the otherworld of eternal joy and plenty where no mortal ever grew old. In the legends of St Patrick’s mission to Ireland he is said to have first come to Tara to confront the ancient religion at its most powerful site.
NEWGRANGE BURIAL MOUND