Knowth is one of three prehistoric burial mounds in Ireland which make up the World Heritage site of the Bend of the Boyne (Brugh na Boinne).
History of Knowth
The oldest aspects of Knowth date back to the Neolithic period (it’s thought to have been created by farmers around 3,200BC as a permanent base), moving through to the Iron Age when it was fortified. Knowth thrived as a settlement from the 8th century AD and, whilst located not far from three large ring forts built at the time, was itself undefended. Falling to the Normans in the 12th century, Knowth developed to play an agricultural role.
Knowth also includes tens of ruins ranging from small passage graves to occupation sites to its large passage tomb. The entrances to the large passage tomb are positioned so the light of the rising and setting sun enters the tomb at the spring and autumn equinoxes. These tombs were also centres of religious and spiritual importance
A large quantity of megalithic art – particularly decorated megalithic stones – was also found at Knowth, making it the home of about a third of the megalithic art found in Western Europe.
The site was excavated in the 1960s, having been discovered a few years previously.
Knowth is accessed via the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre: there’s a good exhibition inside detailing more about the construction of both Knowth and Newgrange, and what life would have been like in those societies. Both sites are then accessed via bus from the Visitors Centre – there’s no public road up there.
Expect a visit to the visitor centre and Knowth itself to take about 2 hours. Access to the tomb itself is via guided tour only – it’s not one for those who dislike enclosed spaces.
Large tour groups tend to arrive here slightly later in the day, so if you want to make sure to experience the site at its most atmospheric, come early or late in the day.
Getting to Knowth
Access is exclusively via the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre, located on the Staleen Road, about 8km south west of Drogheda. Bus 163 from Drogheda Bus Station will drop you here, but bear in mind that there are only two buses a day in either direction, so plan your trip carefully or risk getting stranded!
Discover the best Historic Sites in Ireland, from Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery to Dublin Castle and more, includes an interactive map of Irish cultural places, landmarks and monuments.