Probably the most interesting facts about Brú na Boinne are that they are older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids and they are aligned with the winter solstice, but that is only half the story. There is a lot more to them than meets the eye.
1. The megamounds of Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange are well known but there are up to 40 monuments under the ground still which can be detected with ground penetrating radar.
2. When Newgrange was excavated it was discovered that a lot of the giant stones had carvings on the sides that faced into the earth and could not be seen by anyone!
3. The giant stone basins in Knowth were too large to go down the passage after it was built, so the mound must have been built with them in position first.
4. In Celtic mythology, Brú na Boinne was famed for its hospitality and it appeared to be a sort of hostel for Irish gods as they moved back and forward between worlds.
5. One of the strangest burials in Knowth was that of the Gamblers – two males from the Iron Age who were decapitated and buried head to toe with a dice game between them.
6. The Newgrange mound was forgotten about from the early medieval period to the 17th century when a local landowner decided to dig up the hill for his new road and discovered the mysterious markings. At that very time, there just happened to be an antiquarian passing by on a road trip and he stopped the work.
7. Dowth has a giant hole in the top of its mound after archaeologists decided to use dynamite as a new experimental excavation method in the 19th century.
8. Locals had known about the light shining into the chamber every winter but nobody outside the region believed it until archaeologists discovered it in the 1970s.
9. In 2001, the monuments were closed to the public due to the Foot and Mouth crisis in Ireland. When it was reopened, a badger was discovered hibernating inside the waterproof mound of Newgrange in one of the stone basins.
10. Every year there is a lottery for 50 people to enter Newgrange during the winter solstice and witness the spectacle. The winners are picked randomly by local school-children.
Bonus fact – Nobody actually knows what the mounds are for. Everyone has a theory and each theory tells you more about the person than the mounds.
If you want to visit Brú na Boinne, check out our Newgrange Lodge Hostel which is just across the road.
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