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Dowth (Irish: Dubhadh) is a Neolithic passage tomb which stands in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland. It is found at 53°42′10.5″N 6°26′57″W / 53.702917°N 6.44917°W / 53.702917; -6.44917.

It is the oldest of the three principal tombs of the Brú na Bóinne ("Mansion on the Boyne") complex of passage-tombs (the others being Newgrange and Knowth). It is less developed as a tourist attraction than its neighbours, partly because the chamber is much lower, and partly because the decoration is poorer. It was partly excavated in 1847 though it had been pillaged (by Vikings and earlier looters) long before that.

The cairn or tumulus is about 90 metres in diameter and 15 metres high, and surrounded by kerbstones, some of which are decorated. Quartz was found fallen outside the kerbing, showing that the entrance to this tomb was surrounding by glittering white, as at Newgrange. Three stone-lined passages lead into the mound from the west.

The long passage is crossed by 3 sill-stones and ends in a cruciform (cross-shaped) chamber with a lintelled (not corbelled as in Newgrange or Knowth) roof. Several of the orthostats (upright stones) of the passage and chamber are decorated with spirals, chevrons, lozenges and rayed circles. On the floor stands a single stone basin - somewhat the worse for wear after 5,000 years. The right-hand arm of the cross leads into another long rectangular chamber with an L-shaped extension entered over a low sill. This may be the earliest part of the tomb, later brought within the design of the cruciform tomb. It is floored with a 2.4 metre-long flagstone containing an oval bullaun (artificial depression). Until recently the cruciform tomb was reached by climbing down a ladder in an iron cage, and crawling about over loose stones. Now, access is restricted, and all the features are guarded by metal grilles.

A kerbstone with cup-marks, a spiral and a flower-like design marks the entrance to the second, smaller tomb - with modern concrete roof. This tomb has a few decorated stones, and a single, massive right-hand recess.

At the entrance to the passage of the cruciform tomb is an early medieval souterrain.

Dowth shares a special solar celebration with neighbouring Newgrange during the winter solstice. Martin Brennan author of 'The Stars and the Stones: Ancient Art and Astronomy in Ireland' - Thames and Hudson 1983, (later re-published as The Stones of Time 1994)discovered the remarkable alignment during the course of his ten year study in the Boyne Valley. From November to February the rays of the evening sun reach into the passage and then the chamber of Dowth South. During the winter solstice the light of the low sun moves along the left side of the passage, then into the circular chamber, where three stones are lit up by the sun.

The convex central stone reflects the sunlight in to a dark recess, lighting up the decorated stones there. The rays then recede slowly along the right side of the passage and after about two hours the sun withdraws from Dowth South.

Access to the Dowth site is unrestricted. Access to the southern chamber of Dowth is limited; visitors must request a key from the management of the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre and leave a deposit. There is no public access to the northern passage and chamber or souterrains.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Brú Na Bóinne Archaeological Park article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Britain and Ireland : Ireland : East Coast and Midlands : County Meath : Brú Na Bóinne Archaeological Park
Newgrange Neolithic Burial Mound
Newgrange Neolithic Burial Mound

Brú na Bóinne (English: "Palace of the Boyne") is an internationally important complex of Neolithic chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures located in a wide meander of the River Boyne in Ireland. The Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre acts as a gateway to the Brú Na Bóinne Archaeological Park for visitors from all over the world and is the starting point for all visits to the archaeological sites of Newgrange and Knowth. It is administered by the Office of Public Works [1] and Heritage Ireland [2]. Newgrange is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Access to the other sites in the Brú na Bóinne Archaeological Park is limited. The Dowth site is open to the public direct from the road, but there is only limited access to the southern chamber (during the Winter Solstice alignment) and no access to the northern passage & chamber. Many of the satellite sites are on private land, and therefore access is extremely restricted and requires permission from the landowners.

Get in

By car

From Dublin, take the M1 towards Drogheda. From the west take the N52 via Navan/Slane. On both routes follow the brown/white signage for the Visitor Centre and not for Newgrange Farm. The Visitor Centre is located west of the village of Donore, Co. Meath, Ireland. This tends to cause some confusion among visitors, as the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre is located on the south side of the river Boyne, whereas the sites themselves are located on the north side of the river.

By train

Take a train to Drogheda, then take a local bus from the bus station (see below) a 15 min walk from the train station. Drogheda is well served by direct intercity and commuter services from Belfast and Dublin.

By bus

From Dublin, take the No.100X bus to Drogheda from Busáras bus station [3]), from Belfast take the BE service from the Europa Buscentre to Drogheda. From Drogheda take the the No.163 bus from the bus station to the Visitor Centre in Donore [4].

All access to the Newgrange and Knowth sites is by guided tour only and all tours begin at the Visitor Centre. Anyone arriving directly at the sites will be redirected to the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre, where they are placed on the next available tour. Visitors cross the river via a footbridge at the Visitor Centre and are brought by shuttle bus to the sites. Due to the small nature of the interior of the sites, places are limited to max 700 per day, which can fill up quickly - particularly during summer months. Tours are sold on a first come, first serve basis and so visitors are advised to arrive early.

Tour operators

Bus Éireann [5], Mary Gibbons (highly recommended) [6] and Irish City Tours [7] operate regular tours from Dublin to the Visitor Centre and Newgrange site most days.

Entrance to passage tomb
Entrance to passage tomb

The Visitor Centre is open all year round, with longer opening hours in the summer time. The Visitor Centre houses a large interactive exhibition on the Brú na Bóinne area, an audio-visual presentation, a wheelchair accessible replica of the interior of the passage and chamber at Newgrange. It also has a tourist office, gift shop and tea rooms. There is a large car park and a picnic area at the Visitor Centre. There is no left luggage facility.

The Visitor Centre exhibition, audio-visual presentation, return shuttle bus to either site and full guided tour are all included in the entry fee. Visitors have access to the chamber at Newgrange (no photography or filming is allowed). There is only very limited access to the eastern passage of Knowth and visitors may only look down it - there is no access to either passage or chamber.

  • Enter the annual Solstice lottery for a place in the chamber of Newgrange on the winter solstice (21 December).
  • Visit Newgrange on the Winter Solstice in order to witness the rising sun alignment (weather permitting). Access to the site is allowed, but only winners of the annual solstice lottery and other guests are allowed access to the chamber.
  • Visit Dowth on the Winter Solstice in order to witness the setting sun alignment (weather permitting). No lottery applies - usually the assembled people take turns inside the chamber.


There is a cafe, tourist information point & toilet facilities available in the Visitor Centre. Limited toilet facilities are available on-site at Newgrange and Knowth.

  • Newgrange Lodge Hotel [8] - Formerly an old farmhouse, Newgrange Lodge offers hotel accommodation and traditional Irish hospitality at bed and breakfast rates to both groups and the independent traveller alike. We are located opposite the world famous UNESCO Heritage site of Newgrange. The lodge is perched on seven acres overlooking the tranquil, picturesque Boyne Valley.
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