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'The find of a lifetime': Megalithic passage tomb dating back 5,500 years found in Co Meath

To date, two burial chambers have been discovered within the western part of the main passage.

image005 Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionain, Devenish’s Lead archaeologist for the project, with some of the pieces of unearthed Source: Maxwell Photography

A MEGALITHIC PASSAGE tomb cemetery dating back some 5,500 years has been unearthed beside Dowth Hall in Co Meath.

The discovery is within the Brú na Bóinne world heritage site. The excavation is being carried out by agri-technology company Devenish in partnership with UCD’s School of Archaeology.

To date, two burial chambers have been discovered within the western part of the main passage, over which a larger stone cairn (c. 40 metre diameter) was raised.

The six kerbstones that have been identified so far would have formed part of a ring of stones that followed the cairn perimeter.

One kerbstone is heavily decorated with Neolithic carvings.

Two other possible satellite tombs were also found during the course of the excavation.

“For the archaeologists involved in this discovery, it is truly the find of a lifetime,” Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin, Devenish’s lead archaeologist for the project said.

Dr Steve Davis of the UCD School of Archaeology added: “This is the most significant megalithic find in Ireland in the last 50 years, since the excavation of Knowth. The spate of archaeological discoveries in Brú na Bóinne in recent weeks highlights what a globally significant place this is.”

image002 The tomb cemetery dates back some 5,500 years Source: Maxwell Photography

Speaking today at the excavation site, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said: “The discovery of this new and very significant passage tomb cemetery, dating back to the Neolithic period, some 5,500 years ago, is hugely significant as it will help improve our understanding of the people, culture and heritage in that era.

“To know that this historic site will be preserved for future generations to see, understand and cherish is positive in every respect.”

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