‘Find of a life­time’ as Me­galithic pas­sage tomb dis­cov­ered in Ire­land

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS -

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

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