UNESCO World Heritage Site #171: Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyn

UNESCO World Heritage Site #171: Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyn
UNESCO World Heritage Site #171: Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyn

From the World Heritage inscription:

The monuments of the Bend of the Boyne display longevity of settlement whose origins are found in Neolithic settlements The various monuments, particularly the great passage tomb, represent important cultural, social, artistic and scientific developments over a considerable length of time. Nowhere else in the world is found the continuity of settlement and activity associated with a megalithic cemetery such as that which exists at Brugh na Bòinne. The passage tomb complex represents a spectacular survival of the embodiment of a set of ideas and beliefs of outstanding historical significance unequalled in its counterparts throughout the rest of Europe.

The World Heritage site of the Bend of the Boyne (Brugh na Boìnne in Irish) covers some 780 ha and takes its name from the fact that it is defined on the south, east and west sides by the River Boyne; part of the northern boundary is formed by the River Mattock. It is essentially a ridge running east-west with three low hills on it (Dowth, Knowth and Newgrange). These three great burial mounds dominate the whole area, and are surrounded by about 40 satellite passage-graves, to constitute a great prehistoric funerary landscape. Its intense ritual significance inevitably attracted later monuments, both in protohistory and in the Christian period. The importance of the site is enhanced by the fact that the River Boyne communicates both with the Celtic Sea and the heartland of Ireland, and so it has considerable economic and political significance.

The Bend of the Byone is a collection of ancient burial mounds that date back many thousands of years before the arrival of Christianity.

The most interesting thing about the burial chambers is that each one points in a different astronomical direction. The one I visited, Newgrange, is aligned with where the sun rises on the winter solstice. The alignment is such that it compensates for the hills in the region. Each year there is a lottery to allow people to enter the chamber for sunrise on the solstice. The chamber can only hold about a dozen people, but over 20,000 people enter the lottery each year. There is no guarantee that winning the lotter will let you see the sun ray which enters the mound as weather conditions could prevent it.

To visit the Bend of the Byone, take the train to Drogheda and from there take a taxi. Drivers should know where it is. If not tell them you are going to the Newgrange visitor center.

Near by is also the location of the Battle of the Byone, which was fought between Catholic King James and the Protestant King William in 1690.

This was the twelfth and final stop on my Eurail trip of UNESCO sites in Europe.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

December 2011 Question and Answers

December 2011 Q&AI hope that everyone is enjoying their holidays. Since I’ve arrived back in Wisconsin I’ve been spending my time editing photos and trying to catch up on work which has piled up over the last few months. I had over 4,500 from the last 2 months and I’m now down to 2,000. You can see some of my results in my Galapagos Island photos. I’m also starting to get ready for my trip to Antarctica in January.

I thought I’d take a break from my photo editing to answer some reader questions. As always, you can submit questions via my Facebook page. Continue reading “December 2011 Question and Answers”