Bru na Boinne and Hill of Tara
Today we started at Bru na Boinne which is a prehistoric megalithic sight composed of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. It's about 50 km. North of Dublin. These sites hold major passage tombs from the Neolithic Era as well as an additional 90 recorded monuments from different eras. When you visit the site you can access New Grange, Knowth, or both. Access to the sites is by guided tour and you are bused to the sites from the Visitors Center. The Visitors Center is worth touring as there is a lot of information about the sites displayed as well as a gift shop and cafe. Your Heritage Card allows you entrance to both New Grange and Knowth with the guided tour. It's best to book these tours ahead as they are very popular and lines can become quite long.
New Grange is the larger of the two sites and was constructed around 3,300 BC making it older than the Egyptian pyramids. New Grange, Dowth, and Knowth have significant astronomical importance. New Grange and Dowth have Winter solstice solar alignments and Knowth is oriented towards the Spring and Autumn Equinox. The inner chamber of the New Grange Passage Tomb is lit by the sun during the Winter Solstice. You can enter a lottery for a place in the tomb at the Visitors Center.
The Curb stones surround the cairn and are quite spectacular. They display the art typically associated with this time period in Irish history.
The passage to the central chamber at New Grange is quite long and you have to watch your head. These cairns were well constructed and withstood thousands of years of neglect remaining relatively intact.
Spirals were a theme used often in Neolithic times. We saw these same themes at Lough Crew Cairns and Fourknocks.
After spending a good portion of the day at Bru na Boinne we decided to visit the Hill of Tara as it was not raining. The weather was perfect, sunny, quite warm and then when we reached the Hill of Tara it was cloudy, windy and really quite cold.
Our Heritage Card allowed us entry and the services of a guide so after a short video in the chapel we started up the hill to learn about this important site. Hill of Tara is associated with the ancient Kings of Ireland. Some say 142 Kings reigned here in ancient times.
The Stone of Destiny is perhaps the most famous of the sites at the Hill of Tara. It is said to be Ireland's Coronation Stone brought by the godlike people, the Tuatha De Danann, as one of their sacred objects. The stone was said to roar when touched by the rightful King of Tara. Sadly, it did not roar when my husband, Ron, touched it.
There are a number of sites on the Hill of Tara but most have not been excavated. The guide was great and really brought the site to life. The stories of the site were really interesting and we would have hung out longer than the hour and a half, if it had not been so cold. On the way down we visited the two Standing Stones in the graveyard. One has a Sheela na Gig representation on the front of the stone.
By this time we were tired and really cold so headed back to Trim for dinner at the Stock House.