Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Ireland Trip - 11 Sep 08 - Part II

This is, finally!, the last post from Michael's and my trip to Ireland.

After visiting Newgrange, we hopped on a bus to take us to the other Bru na Boinne site, Knowth. It was still raining, but we were used to that by now.

Knowth is a site with many small burial mounds, some of which are passage tombs aligned with one of the solstices.

The small building is where you show your pass and pick up a loaner umbrella, if one is available.

The curb stones on some of the tombs have been excavated.

Our tour guide was the person on the far right in this picture.

This is a small passage tomb.

These don't appear to have been excavated, but maybe they're smaller tombs.

The neolithic art here is more varied than what is at Newgrange.

There are concentric circles, spirals, the motif in the previous picture (breasts?), and a meandering line that looks like a river.

The passage entrances are all secured at this site.

The larger tombs have a portal stone and some specifically placed stones in front of the entrance.

Most noticeable are the stones that appear to be phallic symbols.

The mounds are elaborately constructed in layers.

This is a small passage that looks more like a drain hole.

The mounds are tightly spaced with just a narrow path between neighboring ones.

Our tour guide is showing a bolt hole at the base of one of the mounds.

She was explaining that a village surrounded the mounds - probably from later eras, and that these bolt holes were used by someone who was to run for help in times of attack.

Michael crawled through this tunnel and was very pleased with himself that he did so without getting very muddy.

More neolithic art.

Part of the evacuation route?

A wood henge near the entrance to the largest passage tomb.

I wonder if that meandering line represents the river Boyne?

The view from the top of Knowth. You can see Newgrange from here.

More artwork....

and the last one from this series.

After we finished at Bru na Boinne, I drove over to Kells to take a look at the Celtic High Crosses that were described in one of my tour books. The best known one is called the Market Cross. It's a small visitors center near one downtown.

This is under glass, which is in need of a cleaning effort.

There is still a lot of detail apparent in the stone carving.

All surfaces of the cross are elaborately carved.

Less than a mile away is the Kells monastery where there are a number of crosses still in the cemetery. This one is unfinished and it gives a good clue as to how these high crosses were constructed.

I think this is St. Patrick's and Columba's cross.

A grave stone

This is a panel fro a broken cross that must have been very large.

Here's another broken cross

Details of the broken cross


The sun started to come out in the late afternoon, which made for a dramatic photo.

The remnant of the monastery tower.

After such a full day, we drove to Dublin and found our hotel. We had supper in a pub across the street from the hotel. This is my last picture from the trip. Slainté!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 Ireland Trip - 11 Sep 08 - Part I

Our last full day in Ireland was just that - very full. We first headed north of Dublin to visit Bru na Boinne - the name is based on the Boyne river, which is shown here in this image.

We found the visitors center and purchased tickets to visit Newgrange and Knowth. You can only access those two sites by bus. This is the queue to the bus loading dock.

This is Newgrange, a passage tomb that is aligned with the dawn sunlight of the winter solstice.

The tomb is faced with quartz rock, lined at the base with large curbstones that have neolithic engravings, and there are monolithic stones that surround the tomb.

A close-up of the white quartze and curb stones.

This is the passage entrance. Theres a window up above the portal and that is where the winter soltice light enters the tomb passage.

Beautiful engravings on the portal stone.

One of the monoliths in front of the entrance.

The monoliths are dotted around the circumference of the tomb site.

These are markers for where wooden logs would have been placed. The site is full of ceremonial configurations of stones and wood.

The guy on the left was our tour guide. You have to enter the tomb on a particular schedule and you only get to be inside the chamber for a few minutes. They take 12 people in at a time.

The passage is very narrow. Overweight or claustrophobic people are recommended to not enter. No photos are allowed inside, but there are three chambers, all with some artwork. There's also a demonstration of what the solstice light beam is like.

There's another small passage tomb out in that tilled field.

There are bridges over the curbstones for access into the passage.

Close-up of the portal stone.

One of the ceremonial sites on the ground.

It was another very rainy day, but the sky made a fantastic back drop for the tomb.

Info to read about.

A map showing the other neolithic sites in the area.

Preservation efforts of the tomb to take care of the neolithic art on the curb stones.

More neolith art....



I never did see a sign about this small structure.

More preservation efforts.

This is the backside of Newgrange. It's definitely worth a visit. This tour was one of our major highlights of the Ireland trip.