Fourknocks - History and Facts | History Hit


Ashbourne, County Meath, Ireland

Fourknocks is a megalithic burial site in the Republic of Ireland.

Peta Stamper

31 Mar 2021
Image Credit: CC / Kieran Campbell

About Fourknocks

Fourknocks is a collection of Neolithic passage graves located in County Meath in the Republic Of Ireland, dating back to the megalithic era. The name, Fourknocks likely comes from the Irish ‘Fuair Cnocs’ meaning Cold Hills or a reference to the four tombs or hills.

Fourknocks history

Fourknocks passage tombs date back to 3000-25000 BC during the megalithic era, marked by the beginning of farming techniques. Topped with earth, the grave became a type of burial mound covering the grave made with pre-historic megaliths and smaller stones, likely a significant landscape marker for the local farming community during the Neolithic period.

The passage tomb was discovered in 1949 when a woman on a visit to Newgrange, a prehistoric monument near Drogheda, described mounds. The main tomb was excavated years later in 1950 to 1952 by PJ Harnett, who found cists, a small stone-built coffin-like box used to hold dead bodies, as well as grave goods including a foot bowl, a carved antler pin and urns containing cremated remains of adults and children. These items were all moved to the National Museum.

The found postholes which would have been used during building to hold stones or large timbers, as the original roof was likely a wooden structure supported by a central pole.

After Fourknocks was excavated, a concrete roof was placed over the reconstruction to protect the chamber.

Fourknocks today

Today you can visit the Fourknocks passage grave under a notable mound by following a path to the tomb entrance. There is a small information board at the entrance. Follow the short passage into the wide, pear-shaped chamber with three smaller chambers offset. The dozens of graves found at Fourknocks are hidden beneath large mounds and are decorated with prehistoric artwork including a rough portrait of a human face, which is three feet high.

Do not forget to take a torch with you, and visitors must put down a cash deposit to gain the key from the nearby village, Naul. There is unfortunately no access to the further two passage graves, now overgrown with grass and bushes.

Getting to Fourknocks

Fourkncoks is located 3.8km northwest from nearby village Naul, County Dublin, a half hour drive from Dublin city centre along the M1. If using public transport, get the 16, 103 and 195 buses from Dublin Airport to Naul – this takes 2 hours. Walking from Naul village takes roughly 50 minutes.

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