Tour to mark 50 years of Knowth discoveries

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of excavations at Knowth in the Boyne Valley and the OPW has confirmed it hopes to create a virtual tour of its chambers that would allow the public to view the treasures inside.

The two burial chambers, which are the longest in Ireland, are inaccessible to the public but the OPW hopes new high-quality scans carried out by a team from UCD can be used to create the virtual experience.

The chambers are home to some of the 300 pieces of elaborate megalithic art that Knowth is also famous for — another piece of art was added to its collection when a large stone with a spiral design was uncovered when the boundary wall was being recovered.

“I think it came from one of the smaller tombs in Knowth and dates from 3000BC approximately,” said Professor George Eogan.

In 1962 he led the first of dozens of excavations at Knowth which as they progressed revealed that Knowth had been used by our ancestors for thousands of years for rituals.

“We did guess the site might yield evidence for a pre-historic tomb but what we didn’t anticipate at that stage is that the passage tombs were only a portion of what was here,” he said.

Evidence was uncovered revealing Knowth was, in the 1st and 2nd millennia AD, “the royal residence of the kings of Northern Brega (part of Co Meath)”, Prof Eogan said.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Dinnehan paid tribute to Prof Eogan saying: “His enthusiasm for Knowth, and the wider area of Brú na Bóinne, has never wavered and now, 50 years later, he is involved in pulling together the final publications of the project.”

He will tonight, at a special party at Knowth, mark the 50th anniversary and also launch Prof Eogan’s latest volume of research on Knowth. It is The archaeology of Knowth in the first and second millennium AD and is the fifth in the Knowth series.

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