Brú na Bóinne - Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne

Brú na Bóinne - Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne

The three main prehistoric sites of the Brú na Bóinne Complex, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, are situated on the north bank of the River Boyne 50 km north of Dublin. This is Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art. The monuments there had social, economic, religious and funerary functions.

Brú na Bóinne - Ensemble archéologique de la Vallée de la Boyne

Les trois sites préhistoriques principaux de l'ensemble de Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange, Knowth et Dowth, sont établis sur la rive nord de la Boyne, 50 km au nord de Dublin. Par ses dimensions et sa qualité, il constitue l'exemple le plus important d'un ensemble préhistorique mégalithique en Europe, avec une concentration de monuments aux fonctions sociales, économiques, religieuses et funéraires.

المجموعة الأثرية في وادي البوين

تقع المواقع الثلاثة الأساسية التي ترقى إلى عصور ما قبل التاريخ من مجموعة برو نا بوين، نيوغرانج ، ونوث ودوث على الضفة الشمالية للـ"بوين" على بعد 50 كم شمال دابلن. وتشكل هذه المجموعة بفضل قياساتها ونوعيتها المثل الأبرز عن مجموعة مغليثيّة من عصور ما قبل التاريخ موجودة في أوروبا، مع تركز للنصب ذات الوظائف الاجتماعية والاقتصادية والدينية والجنائزية.

source: UNESCO/ERI

博恩河河曲考古遗址群

博恩河河曲考古遗址群位于都柏林以北50公里的博因河北畔,包括三个史前遗址,即纽格莱奇(Newgrange) 、诺斯(Knowth)和道斯(Dowth),这个地区是欧洲史前巨石艺术最大和最重要的集中地。那里的遗迹反映了当时的社会、经济、宗教和丧葬习俗文化的风貌。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Археологические находки в долине реки Бойн

Три главных доисторических комплекса – Бру-на-Бойне, Ньюгранж-Ноут и Даут – расположены на северном берегу реки Бойн, в 50 км к северу от Дублина. Это крупнейшее и наиболее ценное скопление доисторических мегалитов в Европе. Сооружения имели социально-экономическое, религиозное и погребальное назначение.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Brú na Bóinne – Conjunto arqueológico del Valle del Boyne

Los tres sitios prehistóricos principales del conjunto de Brú na Bóinne –Newgrange, Knowth y Dowth– se encuentran a unos 50 kilómetros al norte de Dublín, en la orilla septentrional del río Boyne. Por sus dimensiones y calidad, constituyen el ejemplo más importante de conjunto prehistórico megalítico de Europa, dotado de un gran número de monumentos con funciones sociales, económicas, religiosas y funerarias.

source: UNESCO/ERI

ボイン渓谷の遺跡群

source: NFUAJ

Archeologisch complex The Bend of the Boyne

Het gebied ‘The Bend of the Boyne’ beslaat ongeveer 780 hectare en ontleent zijn naam aan het feit dat het aan alle kanten gedefinieerd wordt door de rivier de Boyne. Het complex illustreert de duurzaamheid van een nederzetting met een in het Neolithische tijdperk te vinden oorsprong. De verschillende monumenten – in het bijzonder de grote tombe – vertegenwoordigen belangrijke culturele, sociale, artistieke en wetenschappelijke ontwikkelingen over een aanzienlijke periode. De grafheuvels vormen een spectaculaire overlevering van de uitvoering van een reeks ideeën en overtuigingen met buitengewone historische betekenis die ongeëvenaard zijn in de rest van Europa.

Source: unesco.nl

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© UNESCO
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis 

Bounded on the south by a bend in the River Boyne, the prehistoric site of Brú na Bóinne is dominated by the three great burial mounds of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth. Surrounded by about forty satellite passage graves, they constitute a funerary landscape recognised as having great ritual significance, subsequently attracting later monuments of the Iron Age, early Christian and medieval periods.

Located about 40 km north of Dublin on a ridge between the rivers Boyne and Mattock, within several kilometres of other prehistoric mounds, the site is part of an area rich in stories of Ireland’s ancient past. Predominantly agricultural at the present time the area has been extensively explored for more than a hundred years by archaeologists and historians, with excavations revealing many features. 

The Knowth group, where the earliest features date from the Neolithic period and the latest from the Anglo-Norman period, has produced thirty monuments and sites that figure on the official inventory; these include passage graves adorned with petroglyphs, enclosures, occupation sites and field systems. The Newgrange group is purely prehistoric, with a ringfort, cursus, passage graves and a henge. The Dowth group is similar to that at Newgrange but there is medieval evidence in the form of a church and a castle. 

Criterion (i): The Brú na Bóinne monuments represent the largest and most important expression of prehistoric megalithic plastic art in Europe. 

Criterion (iii): The concentration of social, economic and funerary monuments at this important ritual centre and the long continuity from prehistory to the late medieval period make this one of the most significant archaeological sites in Europe. 

Criterion (iv): The passage grave, here brought to its finest expression, was a feature of outstanding importance in prehistoric Europe and beyond. 

Integrity 

The 780 ha area of the World Heritage property Brú na Bóinne encapsulates the attributes for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List. In addition to the large passage tombs of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, 90 recorded monuments – as well as an unknown quantity of as yet unrecorded sites – remain scattered across the ridge above the Boyne and over the low-lying areas and floodplain closer to (the present course of) the rivers. 

The buffer zone is comprised of 2,500 hectares, the boundary lines respecting carefully mapped views into and out of the property. Since inscription in 1993, views out of the property have been impacted by the M1 bridge crossing the River Boyne to the east of the property; the addition of a third chimney and other structures to the cement factory on the skyline to the east south-east near Duleek; the addition of an incinerator stack to the skyline at Carranstown and a housing development. The ambiance of the ritual centre is vulnerable to such disturbances which could potentially threaten the integrity of the property. The local authority (Meath County Council) has in place planning policies and procedures to deal with applications for developments which may either incrementally or individually have potential impact on the integrity of the World Heritage property.

Authenticity 

The archaeological remains on the site, both above and below ground are wholly authentic.

Major excavations have been carried out at Newgrange and Knowth and have been fully published. Many small excavations and surveys have been carried out in the area. The main conservation works have concentrated on the two main passage tombs at Newgrange and Knowth subsequent to the excavations undertaken at these sites. All conservation and restoration work has been carried out by skilled professional staff. 

At Newgrange, there has been comprehensive anastylosis of the kerbstones and the revetment wall, though the latter has been curtailed to allow access by visitors. The passage roof was completely dismantled to allow the orthostats to be returned to the vertical, with the introduction of reinforcement, and a cowl has been constructed over the chamber area. The cairn itself has been stabilised by means of thin revetments of cairn stones. 

At Knowth, structures from all periods are being conserved. In some passage tombs outer support walls have been built for the burial chambers, involving the use of modern materials such as cement and plastic. Where such new additions are visible they are clearly distinguished in appearance from original materials, but in other cases they are completely concealed. 

The restoration work on these monuments, the result of close collaboration between archaeologists and conservation architects, conforms with the principles enunciated in Article 7 of the International Charter for Archaeological Heritage Management of 1990. 

Protection and management requirements

The protection and conservation of Brú na Bóinne is provided by a range of national legislation, international guidelines, statutory and non-statutory guidance. These provisions include the National Monuments Acts of 1930-2004, the Wildlife Acts of 1976 and 2000, the Planning and Development Acts, various EU Directives and international charters. The national monuments legislative code makes provision for the protection and preservation of national monuments and for the preservation of archaeological objects in the State. The Planning and Development Acts provide a framework to protect against undesirable development.

Most of the 780 hectare site is in private ownership. At the time of inscription only 32 hectares, largely around Knowth and Newgrange, were in State ownership (in 2011, 42.75 hectares are in State ownership). The State-owned part of the property has been under the direct management of the Office of Public Works. This State Office uses its professional staff of conservation architects, engineers, land managers and craftsmen in the day to day management activities. Archaeological input to the conservation and presentation of the property is provided by the National Monuments Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The State Exchequer provides the funding needed for maintenance, management and conservation.

The local authority development plan (Meath County Development Plan) for the area in which Brú na Bóinne is situated seeks to protect the archaeological and cultural landscape and to enhance views within and adjacent to the World Heritage property. The protection of views within and out of the property is a major factor contributing to retention of the property’s integrity.

The Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre opened to the public in June 1997. Its primary purpose is to manage the flow of visitors to the megalithic tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. Education, public awareness and an emphasis on local engagement are also central to the role of the Centre. The number of visitors to these monuments each day is limited to the maximum that can be accommodated with due regard to the protection of the monuments. Access to the monuments is by guided tour only. 

Long Description

The monuments of the Bend of the Boyne display longevity of settlement whose origins are found in Neolithic settlements The various monuments, particularly the great passage tomb, represent important cultural, social, artistic and scientific developments over a considerable length of time. Nowhere else in the world is found the continuity of settlement and activity associated with a megalithic cemetery such as that which exists at Brugh na Bòinne. The passage tomb complex represents a spectacular survival of the embodiment of a set of ideas and beliefs of outstanding historical significance unequalled in its counterparts throughout the rest of Europe.

The World Heritage site of the Bend of the Boyne (Brugh na Boìnne in Irish) covers some 780 ha and takes its name from the fact that it is defined on the south, east and west sides by the River Boyne; part of the northern boundary is formed by the River Mattock. It is essentially a ridge running east-west with three low hills on it (Dowth, Knowth and Newgrange). These three great burial mounds dominate the whole area, and are surrounded by about 40 satellite passage-graves, to constitute a great prehistoric funerary landscape. Its intense ritual significance inevitably attracted later monuments, both in protohistory and in the Christian period. The importance of the site is enhanced by the fact that the River Boyne communicates both with the Celtic Sea and the heartland of Ireland, and so it has considerable economic and political significance.

The area is predominantly agricultural at the present time. It has been intensively explored for more than 100 years by archaeologists and historians, and excavation has revealed many features. The Knowth group, where the earliest features date from the Neolithic period and the latest from the Anglo-Norman period, has produced 30 monuments and sites that figure on the official inventory: these include passage graves, enclosures, occupation sites and field systems. The Newgrange group is purely prehistoric, with a ring-fort, passage graves, a cursus and a henge. The Dowth group is similar to that at Newgrange, but there is medieval evidence in the form of a church and a castle. Also included within the nominated area is the castle at Proudfootstown.

Two main historical periods can be identified among the archaeological remains in this site, and in both the Bend of the Boyne was exerting significant cultural influence over much of central Ireland and beyond: Prehistoric (3800-2200 BC); Protohistory and medieval period.

Major excavations of the great burial mounds at Newgrange and Knowth, and smaller investigations elsewhere, have revealed evidence of human occupation as early as the 4th millennium BC, but more substantial remains are known from the late Western Neolithic. These include houses, palisaded enclosures, and field systems and represent the opening up of Ireland to agriculture with the clearance of ancient woodland. Some 40 passage tombs, which testify to a higher degree of social organization and cultural evolution, are known in the area; their origins are to be found in Brittany and the western part of the Iberian Peninsula. With the arrival of Beaker influences, one of the most important indicators is the switch from circular to rectangular houses. There was little Bronze Age occupation in the area, which was not settled again until the late Iron Age. Knowth became a fortified settlement and many subsidiary burials were inserted into the great Neolithic mound; finds of imported goods testify to extensive trading connections. The early Christian period, from the 8th century AD onwards, saw the construction of three large ring-forts in the area. Knowth grew into a large undefended settlement, with rectangular houses, souterrains, extensive agricultural and industrial activity, and evidence of literacy. It was the capital of the kings of Knowth until the Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century. Under the Normans, the area became a centre of innovation under the control of the Cistercians, who eventually incorporated it into their system of granges or estate farms. It has remained an agricultural landscape to the present day.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Two main historical periods can be identified among the archaeological remains in this site, and in both the Bend of the Boyne was exerting significant cultural influence over much of central Ireland and beyond:

1 Prehistoric (3800-2200 BC)

-Early "Western" Neolithic

- Late "Western" Neolithic

-Passage tomb period

-Beaker period.

2 Protohistory and medieval period

-Late Iron Age -Developed Early Christian

-Anglo-Norman/Cistercian.

Major excavations of the great burial mounds at Newgrange and Knowth, and smaller investigations elsewhere, have revealed evidence of human occupation as early as the 4th millennium BC, but more substantial remains are known from the Late Western Neolithic. These include houses, palisaded enclosures, and field systems and represent the opening up of Ireland to agriculture with the clearance of ancient woodland. Some forty passage tombs, which testify to a higher degree of social organization and cultural evolution, are known in the area; their origins are to be found in Brittany and the western part of the Iberian peninsula. With the arrival of Beaker influences, one of the most important indicators is the switch from circular to rectangular houses. There was little Bronze Age occupation in the area, which was not settled again until the Late Iron Age, in the mid 1st millennium BC. Knowth became a fortified settlement and many subsidiary burials were inserted into the great Neolithic mound; finds of imported goods testify to extensive trading connections. The Early Christian period, from the 8th century AD onwards, saw the construction of three large ring-forts in the area. Knowth grew into a large undefended settlement, with rectangular houses, souterrains, extensive agricultural and industrial activity, and evidence of literacy. It was the capital of the Kings of Knowth up to the Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century.

Under the Normans, the area became a centre of innovation under the control of the Cistercians, who eventually incorporated it into their system of granges or estate farms. It has remained an agricultural landscape up to the present day.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation