Knowth

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Knowth

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Knowth is a Neolithic passage grave and an ancient monument of Brú na Bóinne in Ireland's valley of the River Boyne. It is the largest passage grave of the Brú na Bóinne complex and consists of a large mound (known as Site 1) and 17 smaller satellite tombs. The mound is about 12 metres (40 ft) high and 67 metres (220 ft) in diameter, covering roughly a hectare. It contains two passages placed along an east-west line and is encircled by 127 kerbstones, of which three are missing, and four badly damaged.

The large mound has been estimated to date from between 2500 and 2000 BC. The passages are independent of each other, leading to separate burial chambers. The eastern passage arrives at a cruciform chamber, not unlike that found at Newgrange, which contains three recesses and basin stones into which the cremated remains of the dead were placed. The right-hand recess is larger and more elaborately decorated with megalithic art than the others, which is typical for Irish passage graves of this type. The western passage ends in an undifferentiated chamber, which is separated from the passage by a sillstone. The chamber seems to have also contained a basin stone which was later removed and is now located about two-thirds down the passageway
 
Megalithic art, Knowth
Knowth contains more than a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in all of Western Europe with over 200 decorated stones were found during excavations. Much of the artwork is found on the kerbstones, particularly approaching the entrances to the passages. Many of the motifs are typical: spirals, lozenges and serpentiform. However, the megalithic art at Knowth contains a wide variety of images, such as crescent shapes. Interestingly, much of this artwork was carved on the backs of the stones; a type of megalithic art known as hidden art. This suggests all manner of theories as regards the function of megalithic art within the Neolithic community who built the monuments in the Boyne valley. It is possible that they intended the art to be hidden. It is also possible that they simply recycled the stones and reused the other side

Kerbstone with spirals and lozenges
A historical reference to the cave is to be found in the Triads of Ireland, dating from the 14th to the 19th century, where "Úam Chnogba, Úam Slángæ and Dearc Fearna" are listed under the heading, "the three darkest places in Ireland".[4] The last, meaning the "Cave of the Alders," is generally thought to be the present Dunmore Cave, while the first two translate as the caves of Knowth and the caves of Slaney.[6] It is not known which exact system of caves/passage tombs near the river Slaney is being referred to, with the most likely, those at Baltinglass. Other sources translate the listed locations as Rath Croghan, the cave or crypt of Slane and the "Cave of the Ferns".

The east-west orientation of the passages at Knowth suggests astronomical alignment with the equinoxes. The alignment at Knowth does not occur today. This is due to a number of factors. First of all, the passages were discovered by later settlers and were, to some extent, destroyed or incorporated into souterrains. In this way the original entrances to the passages were distorted or destroyed, making it difficult to establish if an alignment ever existed.

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County Louth, Ireland.

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