Skip to main content

HIST & MYTH: Europe's Neolithic Boyne Valley

Written by Ben Kesp
5,500 years ago our ancient ancestors left a remarkable legacy on the landscape at the edge of the River Boyne, Co. Meath, Ireland. The name of the complex – The Boyne Valley or in Irish, Brú na Bóinne. Referred to as the Jewel of Europe’s Neolithic period, it was to become the largest of the Megalithic sites in Europe dating back to the 35th century BC. Contained within are many ancient prehistoric monuments covered in a veil mystery as to their true purpose. These are not the oldest monuments within Ireland and the ancient site they sit on had been in use prior to their construction by Mesolithic hunters. 

Today archaeologists and historians are continuously confused and surprised at what the site was for and arrive at many theories for the uses and the purpose of its construction. Among the many features contained within the site are three large chamber tombs or temples aligned in a triangular form. The monuments were designed with precision engineering and could be suggested, designed by intelligent scientists with knowledge of science and astronomy. The monuments are solar and lunar aligned giving accurate sun and moon cycles. But who were our ancient ancestors who built these monuments? What knowledge did they have or were they simply mechanisms to tell the coming of the seasons? Similarly, at the same time period around Western and Southern Europe there were many other such monuments constructed. From facts and evidence gathered it is known that these constructions had many uses. 

The three monuments that I mentioned are at times referred to as the cathedrals of the Neolithic period. They are Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth. Each are highly decorated with Megalithic art and Knowth’s art work features different crescent shapes from that of the other two sites and contains over one third of all Western Europe’s Megalithic art work. A map of the moon ten times older than the map drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in 1505 was found by Dr. Philip Stooke of the University of Western Ontario, Canada during his investigations at Knowth. 


Why did the ancient civilisations and scientists have a huge interest in the stars? How did they acquire the knowledge? Observation? Yes, perhaps through careful studying over time but were the expert tools for tracking and aligning the stars present? We can surmise from facts and theories but will we ever truly know why they looked upwards beyond their world. 

Theories and findings suggest that the monuments at the Boyne Valley were for multi purpose use. Ceremonies, burials, sound chambers, portals to other worlds, worships to the sun gods and fertility with the female shape having a huge significance for rebirth and new life. With out clear and hard facts it is difficult to conclude and many of our insights can be blurred by ancient mythology that features heavily in prehistoric Ireland. 

James Swagger, author and researcher had written many articles on the ancient sites around Europe and in particular those found at the Boyne Valley especially Newgrange. He has discussed archaeoacoustics involving megalithic sites. In addition he has discovered several links with Newgrange to the Dogon tribe symbols and the same art representing the alignment of the Sirus Star. The Dogon are a tribe from Mali in West Africa, believed to be of Egyptian descent. Swagger continues by saying that Sirus star has a companion star that can be seen by the naked eye and has a fifty year elliptical orbit (oval shaped path) around Sirus. Was there a connection between the knowledge of the Dogon tribe from Africa and Newgrange? 

Needless to say there are many theories and findings concerning these ancient and mysterious monuments that I could not summarise in this blog like the connections between the ancient writings of the old European civilisation of the Vinca, whose writing is said (with controversy) to predate that of the Sumerian and Egyptian cuneiform and hieroglyphs is found on Kerb 52 of Newgrange. Is there a connection between Newgrange and the great Giza pyramid? Both monuments are 36 degrees apart – one tenth of the earth’s circumference. More information on this theory can be found on the Mythical Ireland Website below. Are the pyramids based on technology used at Newgrange? Is it possible that all of these ancient monuments are connected in some way? Should we be looking at them as a group and not in isolation? The questions and theories are abundant and yet we strive to understand what our ancestors knew. Should we have attained knowledge from these ancient people or perhaps some already have and its findings if truly known would alter everything we know of our world and it’s past. 

Knowth - An internal passage
What do you think of our early ancestors and the imprint they left after them? Has our species evolved anymore today than our early ancestors or has our evolution been through technology and our dependency on it? 

The Boyne Valley is a must see sacred and ancient site comprising of many prehistoric features and of the three large structures only Newgrange is fully open to the public. Poor excavation works on both Knowth and Dowth has resulted in it not being possible to enter. The public can view one of the passages at Knowth. The ancient Boyne Valley site sits North of Dublin and predates the Egyptian pyramids, the Mycenaean period and ancient Greece. It is a World Heritage Site that radiates a mysterious energy and power left by our ancient ancestors, a legacy of who we once were. 

To read more detail on the actual monuments within the Boyne Valley check out:

Further Reading and Information:

Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland and author has written several books on ancient monuments of Ireland and more information can be found on Mythical Ireland along with stunning images of the internal of Knowth’s fine megalithic art work. 

Megalithic Art work at Newgrange Entrance
Discover more on Ben Kesp, author and writer on the Ben Kesp Website.

Discover how to Contribute on the Ben Kesp Website.

Popular posts from this blog

HIST & MYTH: Strongbow & Aoife – Ireland’s Power Couple of the 12th Century

Post 221. Written by Ben Kesp.

The union of marriage between Aoife, Lady of Leinster, Ireland and Richard de Clare, nicknamed Strongbow, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Wales would change Ireland like never before and its ruling class along with it. 

Aoife, born April 26th, 1143, was the daughter of King Dermot MacMurrough (Diarmait Mac Murchada) of the Kingdom of Leinster and his wife Mor O’Toole, Queen Consort of Leinster. Aoife who later became more known as Eva of Leinster and on her marriage became the Countess of Pembroke, agreed to the marriage as she did have the right to refuse under Brehon Law (Early Irish Law). On the 29th of October 1170, Aoife and Strongbow were married at Christchurch Cathedral in Waterford City
Following the death of King Dermot in 1171, under Anglo-Norman law, Strongbow had succession rights to the Kingdom of Leinster, whereas Aoife had a life interest under Brehon law. Strongbow claimed the right to the Kingdom in his wife’s name ensuring his position as Lord o…

HIST & MYTH: Tlachtga and Samhain

Post 242 Written by Ben Kesp 

The end of another seasonal cycle is fast approaching and we are all getting ready to celebrate the ancient festival of Samhain. There is no other place in Ireland or the world more associated to the festival of Samhain than at Tlachtga or the “Hill of the Ward”, located near Athboy in Co. Meath, Ireland, twelve miles from the Hill of Tara. This is an ancient archaeological site which saw a big excavation dig in the summer of 2014 and like Tara the earthen works are most impressive by air. 
It was on this hill over two thousand years ago that saw the birth of Samhain which would later become better known as Halloween. In Irish Mythology, Tlachtga is the daughter of Mud Ruith a powerful druid and sun god. He is a figure of immense power and could grow to great sizes and his breath could turn people to stone! Not someone you would want to cross! According to myth and the tales that are retold, Tlachtga travelled with her father Mug Ruith to Italy to study un…

HIST & MYTH: The Dagda - Father God Figure

Post 227. Written by Ben Kesp. 

Of all the Irish deities making up the pantheon of gods, the Dagda is seen as the most powerful and omnicompetent, unlike his counterparts who are often limited in their abilities.
What I found interesting on my research of the Dagda is his role when it came to the introduction of Christianity. Ireland’s culture and belief systems have been very insular due to its isolation from mainland Europe and its strong ties with its former pagan culture. The development of the Irish church intertwined and fused the old pagan beliefs into the new religion with many crossovers with the gods of old. It appears to have been easier to Christianise and bestow saint hood on former gods than to have them removed altogether. All of the old pagan customs and rituals were based on earth’s seasonal cycles of the year and each is attributed to a related god, so as the seasons impacted the people, so did the god. 
The pagan Irish gods of old came from the “Otherworld” however w…

HIST & MYTH: Tuatha Dé Danann - A Family Tree

Written by Ben Kesp  Following on from my post on theIrish deities and mythological races of Ireland, I am trying my hand at compiling the family tree of the Tuatha Dé Danann.Not an easy task I will add due to the contradictory nature of Irish Mythology.Goddess Danu is seen as the mother of the Danann and Dagda or the Great Dagda is seen as the father of the Gods.It is unclear if Dagda is the son or the husband of Danu as different sources position him in both places.
There are five brothers: (Dagda, Dian Cécht, Lir, Nuada and Ogma). 
vDagda (God of Earth) (Father of the Gods) (King of Ireland)(Or Eochaid Garb) oHusband to Danu with children:      §Bridgit (Goddess of Poetry, Arts & Crafts) (Arrival of Spring - Imbolc) ·Wife to Bres (God of Agriculture) with child:   oRúadan §Bodh Derg (King of Tuatha Dé Danann when they and moved to the Sídhe) §Néith (God of War) ·Husband to Badb? (Daughter of Goddess Ernmas) §Midir ·Husband to Fúmnach ·Husband to Étaín (The Wooing of Étaín) §Áine §Cermait…