Mar 14, 2013

Shades of Ireland at Brú na Bóinne

It’s Saint Patrick’s week here in Ireland. It’s the week when the world is awash with green and everyone and their mother goes back in time until they find a link to the little land on the edge of the Atlantic.

I can’t think of a better time for to tell you I’ve been revising for months and the manuscript for the sequel, Shades of Avalon is finished and will shortly be going to my publisher! It’s taken a long time and I can honestly say the story has gone through a dizzying number of changes. The second book once again takes the characters from Camden to England and Ireland as they try to unravel the dark plans of the last remaining council member.
One of the major locations in book 2 is Brú na Bóinne. This is a region of Ireland around the River Boyne in Ireland and consists of 40 passage tombs dating back 5,000 years. The area also contains more than a third of the megalithic artwork in Western Europe. The most recognizable of these and featured in Shades of Avalon is probably the Tri-Spiral. It is used as a symbol of  Brú na Bóinne and often of Ireland.
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The Tri-Spiral is often thought of as a Celtic symbol but it pre-dates the arrival of the Celts in Ireland by many years. Archaeologists guess at what it means, including representation of  deity and the possibility it depicts the three main sites of Brú na Bóinne—Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth. The above image is taken from a carving in the central chamber at Newgrange. Other spiral carvings appear on the entrance stone at Newgrange, kerbs stones and internal stones at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
Knowth(image from
Boyne Vally Archaeological Park,Co Meath,Ireland
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Dowth(image from
Dowth Passage Tomb, Co. Meath, Ireland.
Newgrange Entrance2013-03-06 11.29.33
Kebstone at Newgrange2013-03-06 12.06.00
Kerbstone K15 at Knowth. Also known at the Sundial Stone2013-03-06 12.54.40
Tomb 15 at Knowth2013-03-06 12.41.57
North chamber at Dowth(image from
Dowth Passage Tomb, Co. Meath, Ireland
However, it’s really anyone’s guess what the symbols really mean. They are simply too old to conclusively know.  Likewise with the purpose of these structures. We can guess they were used to either bury or honour the dead from the remains discovered there. Clearly they had another purpose. Perhaps ceremonial or maybe scientific.
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Above is a replica of the granite stone basin at Knowth, known as Dagda’s Cauldron. Dagda’s Cauldron in mythology was thought to be life sustaining and is sometimes associated with The Holy Grail. Perhaps in the past the dead were cremated, the bones and remains placed in the basin. This particular basin is suggested to depict Atlantis in the carvings on stone. This leads us to the possibility the passageways were not only ceremonial, but scientific in nature.
It’s suggested the kerbstones at Knowth(some damaged or missing) were detailed depictions of the night sky and that once upon a time the moon and sun travelled though the passageways and illuminated the internal chambers during the equinoxes. This is impossible to verify since passageways have been distorted or destroyed over time. Most notably and controversially during excavation when a concrete slab was erected inside the western passage.  
However, we can see the illumination phenomenon at Newgrange.
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There are two basin’s at Newgrange in the right hand cavity of the cruciform chamber. Also made of granite. For those lucky enough to stand inside the cruciform chamber at sunrise on the days around the winter solstice(during cloudless skies), they will see golden light travel down the length of the passageway for several minutes before reaching the  chamber as the sun passes in front of the upper opening. The external walls are made up of hundreds of river stones(rounded gray stones) and thousands of pieces of white quartz(Grian Cloch or Sun Stone). Quartz is also an element of granite, the stone used for the basins.
image from worldheritageireland.ieNewgrange Passage Tomb Co Meath Ireland
The Winter Solstice
image from worldheritageireland.ieNewgrange Passage Tomb, Co. Meath, Ireland
The above two images are deceptive. The Newgrange  passageway is a tight squeeze. At times it’s necessary to duck or turn sideways for the average sized person. There is more room inside the chamber under the high vaulted corballed roof, room for perhaps twenty or so adults comfortably. It feel very secure although none the slab roof stones are secured by anything other than ancient engineering.



  1. Woo Hoo, so stoked aboutt he new book. :D

  2. Love the photos! Happy St. Paddy's Day to you, my dear.

  3. What a cool bookmark & thanks for sharing the background & photos. Off to pimp this awesome freebie & giveaway right now. :)

  4. Happy St. Patrick's Day and thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com
    GFC: BookAttict