We had a lovely fine day in Ireland for our drive from Dublin to Belfast (I even managed to get sunburnt). I had a wonderful day indulging in some fine celtic history!
First stop was The Hill of Tara – an Iron Age hilltop enclosure that was reputedly the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
This standing stone is believed to be The Stone of Destiny (where the High Kings were crowned).
The elevation at Tara affords some spectacular views over the Boyne Valley.
From Tara we headed to Newgrange and Knowth. These are neolithic passage tombs (both over 5000 years old) that are highly significant and are listed as world heritage sites. Tours for both places leave from the visitors center and tickets are limited, with tours running every half hour. This is a very popular site – so if you ever visit here – arrive early and give yourself plenty of time. After buying your ticket you are bused to each site at your allocated time – with each guided tour taking 48 people (2 bus loads) and lasting an hour at each cairn. We arrived around 11am and left about 2:45pm.
At Knowth there is a larger main burial mound which is surrounded by 18 satellite mounds. Knowth also has a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in Western Europe.
Newgrange is probably the best known Irish passage tomb. It looks a bit more impressive than Knowth and is better preserved. You are also able to enter the passage at Newgrange, but are unable to do so at Knowth.
There are some wonderful examples of neolithic Celtic stone art here as well.
Our final stop today before heading to Belfast was at Monasterboice. Monasterboice was founded in the 5th century as a monastic settlement and the ruins of the medieval monastery are within the graveyard. This site also includes a roofless 35m high round tower and two churches, but best of all it contains some spectacular examples of 10th century High Crosses.
Another happy day for me! 🙂