Bru Na Boinne (the palace of the Boyne) is the name of the complex of passage tombs that encompasses Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.These ancient sites are among the top tourist attractions in Ireland.
The mound at Knowth
Both Newgrange and Knowth are open to the public, and there is an attractive visitor centre which I would recommend that will help you gain a better understanding of what these sites are all about. Take a tour of the tombs knowing that you are entering some of the oldest buildings on Earth, the oldest after Carrowmore in County Sligo that is. No kidding. These structures, built by the stone age culture of the first farmers are older than the Egyptian pyramids.
Newgrange is the most striking of all three monuments, and the best developed for tourism. It is the largest excavated megalithic passage tomb in Ireland. Newgrange was built by a culture who revered the Earth mother and their ancestors whom they buried in these womb-like structures.
Each passage tomb is slightly different, and a recent line of thought on this is that perhaps the differences were a way of tribes or clans to draw boundaries between each other making marks on the landscape in their particular style. Compare also Carrowkeel in County Sligo, another stunning complex of passage graves.
If you have your own transport follow signs from the M1 motorway to the southwest of Drogheda.
If you are planning to take a bus- there are convenient daytrip options available from Dublin, complete with a bus tour and tickets to the monuments.
The corballed ceiling at Newgrange
A Newgrange shuttlebus picks up in Dublin city centre (Suffolk Street tourist office) at 8.45 a.m. (return to Dublin at 1 p.m.) and 11 a.m. (return to Dublin at 4 p.m.) with a second stop for pick up at the Royal Dublin Hotel on Upper O’Connell Street. Tickets are 10 Euros single and 15 Euros return for the bus only. There are other operators of bus tours to Bru Na Boinne who often include other sites in the tour such as the Hill of Tara. Expect to be paying about double of what the tourist office bus plus entrance fee to the visitor centre and Newgrange will cost you.
Shop around for what suits you.
Some providers even offer customised tours geared towards your group. You can visit Bru Na Boinne and throw in some other sites such as Trim Castle and the High Cross at Monasterboice (very impressive) for good measure to make a day of it. These customised tours come at a higher price of course. You get good value when you have a group of 8 people and share a minibus at a daily cost of around 330 Euros, but do shop around.
The passage at Newgrange, a right squeeze.
Start at the the visitor centre which is open daily with longer opening hours in the summer (until 7.00 p.m.) and shorter hours during the winter (until 5 p.m.) Last admission to the visitor centre is 45 minutes before they close.
There is a mini bus service from here to the tombs. The last bus leaves 1 hour and 45 minutes before closing time. Note that Knowth is only open during peak season from May until September.
Neolithic art at Newgrange
If you are anywhere nearby and your interest has been roused by reading this article, GO THERE! Bru Na Boinne is simply amazing, an experience that will stay with you forever.
If you are there during peak season, make sure to visit Knowth as well which is quite different to Newgrange. The mound at Knowth has two passages for example which are both oriented for alignment with the sun on equinox days. There is a lot more ‘art’ here, too, that is stone carvings of patterns which most likely were religious or perhaps astronomical symbols.
If you can, include a trip to the Royal site at Tara in your trip. If you don’t know what a Royal Site is all about, click here to read about the similar but much larger complex at Rathcroghan in County Roscommon.
Hope you enjoyed our article on ancient Ireland at the Boyne valley!
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