In what some are calling the “find of a lifetime,” Irish archaeologists have found a 5,500-year-old megalithic tomb in County Meath, near Dublin. Besides two burial chambers and other inscribed stones, two possible satellite tombs were also found during the excavation. The site was found at the 18th century Dowth Hall, which is within the Brú na Bóinne complex, a Unesco World Heritage site. Brú na Bóinne is one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes, and contains significant tombs and monuments. According to officials, the site represents the largest assemblage of megalithic art in Western Europe.
The dig was conducted cooperatively by the agri-technology company Devenish and University College Dublin (UCD). Devenish, which is based in Northern Ireland, bought Dowth Hall and surrounding land in 2013. Teams from UCD and Devenish have been cooperating at the site for over one year.
“The find of a lifetime” - archaeologist Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin on the discovery of a Megalithic passage tomb dating back some 5,500 years at the 18th century Dowth Hall in County Meath. pic.twitter.com/MhkAAoCTxp— Philip Bromwell (@philipbromwell) July 16, 2018
Currently, there are six heritage sites at Dowth dating back some 5,500 years. Over the past five years, the work has increased the number of recorded monuments on the site from eight to 13.
Lead archaeologist Dr. Clíodhna Ní Lionáin described the discovery as "the find of a lifetime."
She said that two burial chambers were discovered within the western part of the main passage tomb, over which a large stone cairn was raised. In addition, six kerbstones ringed the perimeter of the cairn. One kerbstone is decorated with ancient Neolithic carvings that are among the most significant examples of megalithic art found in Ireland for decades. In a statement, lead archaeologist Cliodhna Ni Lionain said, “For the archaeologists involved in this discovery, it is truly the find of a lifetime.” Dr. Steve Davis of UCD said that it is the most significant megalithic find of the last half-century.
Two possible satellite tombs have also been found during the latest excavation.
Last week, a drone flying over County Meath discovered remains of a henge -- a circular earthwork typical of the megalithic period in the British Isles. Found near the 5,000-year-old Newgrange monument in County Meath, the origins of the newly discovered henge are as yet unconfirmed but may date to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. A heatwave in Ireland had scorched the crops on the private land where the henge could be discerned by the drone.