The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD, today (Wednesday 20 June, 2012), commemorated 50 years of excavations by Professor George Eogan at the great passage tomb at Knowth, Co Meath, dating back to 3,000 BC. The occasion was marked by the launch of the fifth in a series of Knowth publications by Professor Eogan - ‘The Archaeology of Knowth in the First and Second Millennium AD’.
The Knowth passage tombs, along with those at Newgrange and Dowth, form part of the Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The Brú na Bóinne tombs, in particular Knowth, contain the largest collection of megalithic art in Western Europe. The archaeological excavations on the site have contributed significantly to the knowledge of Ireland’s earliest farmers, including burial places, rituals, ceremonies and the sophistication of their society and economies.
“It is humbling to think” the Minister said “that some 5,000 years ago, when these tombs were built of the enormity of the effort which skilled craftsmen put into creating these tombs and passage ways. These tombs are older than Stonehenge in England and they are also older than the Pyramids in Egypt.”
Describing the world heritage site at Brú na Bóinne as the ‘jewel in the crown of our cultural heritage’, Minister Deenihan went onto say, “the wonderful carved stones, together with those at Newgrange and Dowth, constitute the largest collection of megalithic art in the world. I cannot over emphasise how important I believe it is for people to come and visit the Brú na Bóinne site and witness first-hand the magnitude of the feat which was achieved in building these mounds. It is by learning and honouring our past that we can appreciate the present” added Minister Deenihan.
Minister Deenihan then presented Professor Eogan with a replica of the basin stone found in the tomb as a memento of his lifetime work at the site. The Minister remarked that Professor Eogan, who first discovered the passage tomb in 1968, ‘was probably the first person to see the chamber and the decorated stone basin since the 10th Century.’
The Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre, operated by the Office of Public Works, is open all year round, with access to Knowth available seven days a week from April to October.
The Archaeology of Knowth in the First and Second Millennium AD, is published by the Royal Irish Academy and can be purchased via their website - www.ria.ie.