Let’s pretend we are in Ireland at Bru-na-Boine, home to one of the oldest and most mystical sites on the planet – the pyramids of the Boyne Valley.
If you dig deeper, it’s the largest burial ground with an enormous size and age that exceeds such landmarks as Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
The pyramids of the Boyne Valley are located 40 kilometers from Dublin in County Meath. It is proved that these structures are older than Stonehenge and the pyramids at Giza. Scientists have counted more than 37 mounds, the largest of which are Newgrange, Dowt and Naut. Scientifically they are called corridor tombs. This means that a long corridor made of monolithic blocks leads to a burial chamber. A study has been carried out which shows that it took masters about 50 years to build each tomb. The age of the tombs is more than five thousand years. They were built in the Neolithic period when Ireland was first inhabited by ancient people. At first sight it would seem that the tombs do not have a complex structure, but they do. More careful excavation has proved that they were built by professional craftsmen in various fields of knowledge. It is most likely that they also organized their lives very well. Unfortunately, they did not leave any written documents and proofs of it. Therefore no one can say for sure about the life of the population. There are many assumptions. They say that they used slave labor, and some believe that the mounds were built by free people. But omitting all the speculation, today we have the largest monuments of ancient art.
300 years after the pyramids were built, the Celtic peoples came to Irish soil. By this time the largest structures were overgrown with vegetation and looked more like hills than tombs. This is probably why the Celts chose the mound of Nauth to build their residence.
The last mention of the pyramid is found in Norman history. In 1175 the area belonged to the monks. The Normans somehow negotiated with them and built a new building on Naut, a stronghold.
In 1699 local builders were looking for gravel for the road and came across unusual hills. How they were surprised when immediately after a few strokes of the tools through the ground elements of the pyramids were revealed. After that the investigations of the mounds begin. In the 18th century one researcher calls the Newgrange Mound “the cave of the sun”, linking its erection to calendar cycles, most likely the spring and winter solstice.
The most comprehensive excavation began in 1967 by archaeologist Michael O Kelly, who was able to prove that Newgrange is associated with the solstice. On December 21 at dawn, the sun’s rays hit the burial chamber and illuminate it for 17 minutes. The mound was so precisely designed to illuminate an ancestral burial chamber once a year.
On the other hand, the ancient masters were excellent engineers. The pyramids of the Boyne Valley have a much more complex structure than the Egyptian pyramids. Newgrange is 90 meters in diameter and not more than 15 meters high. At the base of the burial chamber are ancient monoliths weighing 20-40 tons, set in the shape of a ring. In the center is a large bowl used for rituals. On the sides you can see special hollows in which the ashes of the dead are hidden. The entrance to the mound is noticeable by the boulders surrounding it. The size of the stones ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 meters. Around the tomb were also found boulders. Scientists have counted 97 upright stone formations. Patterns and ornaments resembling geometric figures were found on each of them.
Naut is considered the largest of all the barrows. Its circumference is almost one kilometer. Surrounding the pyramid are 277 stones, almost each of which weighs about five tons. It is also possible to see 15 small graves.
The studies of the Naut pyramid are firmly intertwined with the scientist George Yonagon. He began studying the mound in 1962 and continued for 24 seasons, exploring only one-third of the structure. However, even this was enough to make an important discovery: it turned out that in the depths of the pyramid there are two burial chambers with corridors of thirty meters.
After fifteen years of excavation, he finally enters one of the burial chambers. In this place, there had not been people before him for more than five thousand years. In 1983 a second chamber was found, also completely untouched by man.
The pyramid of Nauth has a similar location to Newgrange, allowing the sun to illuminate its burial chambers. It is still not clear what the ancient inhabitants needed sunlight for. Apparently, the reason is quite good.
There are thoughts that light will be shed on the mystery by the pyramid of Dowt, the study of which has only recently begun.
Newgrange is a megalith, an iconic structure in Ireland and a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
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Long before the mystical Celts there were tribes in Ireland, much more mysterious and no less enlightened in terms of astronomy. Nobody knows what they called themselves those people who created huge burials, having poured high mounds, nowadays called the complex Bru-na-Boine. The Boyne is the river in whose valley these people preferred to bury their ancestors. With their knowledge of the movement of celestial bodies, the ancients baffled many generations of scientists. Even today, these mounds conceal many mysteries.
Bru-na-Boine is a group of several dozen burial mounds in Ireland, which have been dug in the valley of the river Boyne in times immemorial. The Irish, with their distinctive sense of humor, have dubbed Brun On Boyne “The Palace on the Boyne,” or “The Royal Cemetery.
The sheer size of the tumuli allowed the ancient builders to pave long narrow corridors through them, leading directly to the burial chambers. But what explains the gigantism of the structures?
The majestic complex of forty burial mounds is nestled among the green landscapes of the Voin River valley, mostly on the north bank where it forms a sprawling bend.
The ancient ancestors of today’s Irish worshipped the River Woin as sacred: according to legends, the Celtic gods and folk heroes were showered by its waters. The River Woin itself is relatively small, but its cultural and spiritual significance to the inhabitants of Ireland is enormous, and given the age of the barrows, it has been worshipped since the Stone Age.
There are hundreds of Neolithic barrows in the area, but Bru-na-Boin stands out above all for its size. Of Bru-na-Boin’s forty barrows the largest are Newgrange, Dowt and Nauth. These are surrounded by smaller barrow mounds.
All of these ancient burials followed the same plan. First the diameter of the barrow was mapped out, depending on the social status of the deceased – the more influential and wealthy the deceased, the larger the barrow would have to be. Then a long and narrow corridor was built, the material for which was massive stone blocks brought on rafts on the river Voin from distant quarries. The corridor started from the outer perimeter of the burial mound, penetrated the entire mound and led to the burial chamber, located in the very center of the circle. Then began the most laborious and time-consuming process: the construction of the mound and the formation of the ideal shape of the mound, the top of which had to be exactly above the burial chamber.
The undeniable similarity of the structure of the Bru-na-Boin barrows to other similar funerary structures in various parts of the world, such as the Egyptian pyramids (the huge dimensions, burial corridors and chambers), has given rise to many theories explaining the similarities, from the involvement of aliens to an ancient telepathic link between the peoples of the earth, which has since been lost. Archaeologists reject such theories, explaining the similarities in the structure of the tombs by the patterns of the human mind overcoming the same obstacles and finding the same answers. In comparison, the famous Stonehenge in England is a thousand years younger, and the Egyptian pyramids are five hundred years older.
The Bronze Age peoples of the Neolithic culture used the Bru-na-Boin megaliths in the same way, burying their dead in them, and today it is the only burial site in Ireland of the so-called Beaker Culture.
Nearly three thousand years after the construction of the megaliths the Boyne Valley was settled by the Celts, who used the mounds not only for the burial of their leaders but also as natural elevations for building fortifications, such as the castle on the mound of Nauth. So did the Normans in the twelfth century, who fortified the tops of the mounds.
Today the mounds at Bru-na-Boin are not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also an integral part of Ireland’s traditional townscape.
Bru-na-Boine is a group of four dozen burial mounds in Ireland, poured in the valley of the River Voyne.
Even today, there is no consensus among scholars as to the purpose of the structures, although Newgrange has been conventionally named the “Cave of the Sun.
In medieval times there were dark legends about the tombs of Bru-na-Boin that have survived to this day. Locals have told tales of dark corridors that stretch straight into the underworld, home to the mythical Tuatha de Danann tribe who once ruled Ireland and after the Celts came riding deep into the earth, where they appear as elves and fairies to modern humans. These frightening legends, however, do not prevent locals from actively farming and building farms around the mounds.
After the Celts, the purpose of the mounds was forgotten, they were seen as mounds of nature. It was not until 1699 that people again became aware of the man-made origin of the complex when they dug up the rubble. Its purpose remained unclear until the XX century, when systematic investigations began. They have not ended even today, because the scope of work is simply immense.
The most famous of the barrows is Newgrange, one of the world’s oldest so-called archaeoastronomical sites: built in about 3200 BC, it is constructed so that on winter solstice morning the first rays of the rising sun reach through the window above the barrow entrance and light the burial chamber in its center. It is not known how the Neolithic people were able to achieve such precision in calculations requiring many years of observation of the movement of the sun and simply virtuoso building skills.
The traceable connection between the complex and astronomical processes indicates that the Bru-na-Boin megaliths were not only burial sites, but also sites for the study of celestial bodies as well as for religious ceremonies. This is also evidenced by the drawings carved on the stones in the corridor and burial chamber: circles, triangles, and zigzags, all symbols of the Sun and the Moon, as well as schematic representations of human faces.
The Daut mound was also built with the winter solstice in mind, and there are remnants of later structures that appeared to have been erected at the time of construction on a natural elevation.
The third (the oldest and largest) barrow, Nauth, remains the most studied so far: the artifacts found in the funerary structure account for about a quarter of all known monuments of Western European Neolithic art. Archaeologists also confessed that they were puzzled by the world’s oldest map of the moon, engraved on a stone in the Naut corridor. There are also indications that the ancient astronomers built Naut so that the sun illuminates it in a special way on the day of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes: one of the Naut corridors is illuminated by sunlight on March 21, the other on September 23.
Findings in these mounds, as well as in the smaller Fornox, Lochcru, and Tara mounds, have allowed archaeologists to isolate the distinct ancient culture of the Voin.
In ancient times the Voyn River was a busy waterway, with many canals built along it. Then the navigation was abandoned, but in these days work has begun to restore navigation to create convenient tourist water routes: traveling on the river, you can see almost all the main mounds of Ireland. There are also plenty of salmon and trout in the river. Sport fishing is flourishing here.
The archaeological site of Bru-na-Boin has come up with a clever way to promote Irish history to children. Sometimes a competition is announced to create a handicraft (drawing, etc.) on the theme “Newgrange – Winter Solstice”. The winners have a unique prize: together with their parents they can be in the mound of Newgrange and watch the penetration of the sunlight into its depths. There is a raffle among visitors, as only 50 people a year can see the rare spectacle.
The Celts used Nauth Mound to build their castle and enclosed it with two moats and a rampart, causing the entrances to Nauth to be destroyed.
The triple spiral is the most common ornament in the Newgrange Mound. This symbol is very common in Neolithic art and is thought to represent the transition from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The image of the spiral can depict the snake, which, shedding its skin in the spring, as if born for a new life.
To date the remains of about two hundred people have been found in the Nauth Mound, and about one hundred in the Newgrange Mound. In one of the barrows the remains of two young men were found buried with a set of dice.
To date 1200 megalithic tombs have been discovered in Ireland. Depending on the structure, archaeologists have divided them into four groups: “courtyard” (there is always a small courtyard in front of the entrance), “corridor” (Bru-na-Boin belongs to these), “portal” (dolmens of vertically placed stones), and “wedge-shaped” (with a characteristic form of burial chambers).
Until the discovery of radiocarbon dating, the Bru-na-Boin megaliths were thought to be the oldest in Ireland. Today it is clear that the stone tombs at Carrowmore, in County Sligo in the north of Ireland, are much older: they were built no later than 4400-3800 BC.
The Boyne River carries its waters past historic sites such as the town and castle of Trim and Tara Hill. The Battle of the Boyne River decided the outcome of the so-called Glorious Revolution, which overthrew and exiled King James II Stuart (1633-1701).
Regardless of the size of each such tomb, it took about half a century to build. That is, the tomb was built over the course of more than a generation: Neolithic men lived on average no more than thirty years.
Historic: Mounds of the Bru-na-Boin complex (the largest are Newgrange, Dout, Nout).
Total area of the complex: 10 km2. Dimensions of the New Grange mound: diameter – 76 m, height – 12 m, corridor length – 17 m, weight of monoliths – from 20 to 40 tons, the total weight of monoliths – 200 000 tons. Dimensions of the Naut mound: diameter – 67 m, height – 12, number of vertical monoliths – 127, weight of monoliths – up to 5 tons, number of corridors – 2, length of corridor – more than 30 m. Dimensions of the mound Daut: diameter – 85 m, height – 15 m. Distance: 15 km west of Droeda, 40 km north of Dublin.