Perhaps the most significant attraction to linchpin the ‘ancient aspect’ of the east is Brú na Bóinne
It has been the focus of human settlement for at least 6,000 years. The archaeological landscape within Brú na Bóinne, which means the ‘palace’ of the Boyne in Co. Meath, is dominated by the three large passage tombs, Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, built some 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age.
Brú na Bóinne was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in December 1993 in recognition of its universal value. The scale of passage tomb construction, the important concentration of megalithic art as well as the range of sites and the long continuity of activity were cited as reasons for the site’s inscription.
Newgrange, perhaps the most famous tomb, was built during the Neolithic period around 3000 BC to 2500 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
The site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers, and mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by engraved kerbstones.
There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice.
It shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe, such as Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland and the Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales.
The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993 having been judged to have met three of the six criteria for cultural heritage of outstanding universal value:
representing a masterpiece of human creative genius,
bearing a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared,
being an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stage(s) in human history.
The only way to enter the famed tombs is by partaking in the official tours that leave the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre which is located on the south bank of the river, close to the village of Donore.
Find out more here: www.ireland.com