Brú na Bóinne

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, iv
Reference 659
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1993 (17th Session)
Brú na Bóinne is located in Ireland
Brú na Bóinne
Location of Brú na Bóinne in Ireland.

Brú na Bóinne (Irish: [ˈbˠɾˠuː n̪ˠə ˈbˠoːn̪ʲə], Palace of the Boyne) is a World Heritage Site in County Meath, Ireland and is the largest and one of the most important complex of Megalithic sites in Europe, dating to the Neolithic period. The complex is situated around a wide bend in the River Boyne.

The site

The site is a complex of Neolithic mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures, some from as early as 35th century BC - 32nd century BC. The site predates the Egyptian pyramids and was built with sophistication and a knowledge of science and astronomy, which is most evident in the passage grave of Newgrange. The site is often referred to as the "Bend of the Boyne" and this is often (incorrectly) taken to be a translation of Brú na Bóinne (Palace of the Boyne). The associated archaeological culture is often called the Boyne culture.

The site covers 780 ha (1927 acres) and contains around 40 passage graves, as well as other prehistoric sites and later features. The majority of the monuments are concentrated on the north side of the river. The most well-known sites within Brú na Bóinne are the impressive passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, all famous for their significant collections of megalithic art. Each stands on a ridge within the river bend and two of the tombs, Knowth and Newgrange, appear to contain stones re-used from an earlier monument at the site. There is no in situ evidence for earlier activity at the site, save for the spotfinds of flint tools left by Mesolithic hunters.

However, there is evidence that the site was visited repeatedly during the Bronze, Iron and Medieval periods, evidenced by the multiple Beaker, Roman, and Medieval artefacts that were found during O'Kelly's excavations from 1962 to 1975.

Numerous other enclosure and megalith sites have been identified within the river bend and have been given simple letter designations, such as the M Enclosures. In addition to the three famous tombs, several other ceremonial sites constitute the complex including:

Newgrange, dating back to 2,500 BCE, is the central mound of the Boyne Valley passage grave cemetery, the circular cairn in which the cruciform burial chamber is sited having a diameter of over 100 metres. Knowth and Dowth are of comparable size. Each of the three main megalith sites have significant archaeoastronomical significance. Newgrange and Dowth have Winter solstice solar alignments, while Knowth is orientated towards the spring and autumn Equinox. In addition, the immediate environs of the main sites have been investigated for other possible alignments. The layout and design of the Brú na Bóinne complex across the valley has also been studied for astronomical significance.

As well as being surrounded on its southern, western and eastern sides by the Boyne, one of the Boyne's tributaries, the Mattock, runs along the northern edge, almost completely surrounding Brú na Bóinne with water. All but two of the prehistoric sites are within this river isthmus.

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre

All access to Newgrange and Knowth is by guided tour only: tours begin at the Visitor Centre in Donore[disambiguation needed], Co. Meath.

Public transport access

Bus Éireann route 163 operates between Drogheda and the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre via Donore.[1] The nearest railway station is Drogheda railway station approximately 9 kilometres distant.

See also


  1. "Bus Timetable". Retrieved 7 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Lewis-Williams, D and Pearce, D, Inside the Neolithic Mind, Thames and Hudson, London, 2005, ISBN 0-500-05138-0
  • O'Kelly, M. J., 1982. Newgrange: archaeology, art, and legend, London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd.

External links

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