‘Find of a lifetime’ as Megalithic passage tomb discovered in Ireland
Archaeological research by agri-technology company Devenish and UCD School of Archaeology has uncovered a new and significant passage tomb cemetery dating back some 5,500 years.
To date, two burial chambers have been discovered within the western part of the main passage tomb, over which a large stone cairn (c.40m diameter) was raised. The six kerbstones that have been identified so far would have formed part of a ring of stones that followed the cairn perimeter. One kerbstone is heavily decorated with Neolithic carvings and represents one of the most impressive discoveries of megalithic art in Ireland for decades. During the course of this project, a further two possible satellite tombs were also found.
Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin, Devenish’s lead archaeologist for the project said: “For the archaeologists involved in this discovery, it is truly the find of a lifetime.”
Dr Steve Davis of the UCD School of Archaeology said today, “This is the most significant megalithic find in Ireland in the last 50 years, since the excavation of Knowth. The spate of archaeological discoveries in Brú na Bóinne in recent weeks highlights what a globally significant place this is.”
As well as the large passage tombs, other significant discoveries have been made as part of an on-going programme of archaeological research work on the Devenish Lands at Dowth over the past five years, led by Dr Stephen Davis and Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin in collaboration with colleagues from the German Archaeological Institute. This has increased the number of recorded monuments on the site from eight to 13.
There are six distinct heritage landscapes on the Devenish Lands at Dowth, Co. Meath, dating from 5,500 years ago – Middle Neolithic passage tombs, a Late Neolithic henge and associated structures, a Bronze Age enclosure, at least two high-status Early Medieval enclosures, Late Medieval settlements and the demesne landscape created around Dowth Hall in the 1700s. The layering of this number of heritage landscapes in the same location is very rare.
Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin is pictured with some of the pieces of unearthed Kerbstone