I've been to the Complex three times now. On the whole the preservation of the area, and the way tourism here is carefully managed, seems understandable, bearing in mind that people live here and don't need their roads choked with cars. The Visitor Centre is also impressively unobtrusive.
I just can't help getting the urge, though, to stick two fingers up at the buses that you are strong-armed into using in order to get to Newgrange and Knowth. On all three visits I have wished I walked to the tombs instead and this has been the source of a couple of heated discussions with my partner.
I just can't stand feeling openly "managed" at such sites.
Excavations unearth new features from Neolithic period
New and exciting archaeological finds have been made at the Knowth tumulus over the last few months, according to archaeologists working on the site.
The passage tomb cemetery at Brú na Binne has produced some extraordinary discoveries over the decades ever since Professor George Eogan made his first tentative exploration in and around the site.
A number of previously unknown large-scale monuments in the field lying immediately to the south-east of the large mound have recently come to light.
A programme of detailed non-invasive topographical, electrical resistance and magnetometer surveys conducted by Joe Fenwick of the archaeology department of NUI Galway, in collaboration with Professor George Eogan, has revealed a complexity of sub-surface wall-footings, earth-filled ditches and post-pits. This research confirms that the archaeological footprint of Knowth extends over a far greater area than previously thought.
The nature, date and function of these 'hidden' monuments has yet to be fully assessed but it is likely these features represent a succession of overlapping periods of human occupation, building and rebuilding over the course of several thousand years - from the early Neolithic up to the present day.
Two features are particularly apparent in the magnetometer image, a large double-ringed oval measuring 65m across its minor axis and a sub-rectangular ditched enclosure with internal features measuring over 70m in maximum dimension.
These may represent the remains of a double-ditched enclosure of prehistoric or early medieval date, possibly a henge-like enclosure or ringfort, and a medieval or post-medieval walled enclosure, respectively.
In the absence of dating evidence and with few, if any, definitive archaeological parallels, only very tentative interpretations of these features can be provided at this early stage of investigation, the archaeologists said.
During OPW repair works to a 19th century wall, which forms a boundary along the west side of the public road, a number of significant stones that had been built into its fabric were identified. One, though undecorated, is likely to have served as kerbstone marking the base to one of Knowth's satellite tombs.
Another is an architectural fragment, possibly part of a chapel or other prominent structure at Knowth, which once formed part a grange established in the high medieval period by the Cistercian monks of Mellifont.
Perhaps the most remarkable discovery, however, is a stone which bears a finely carved spiral in the megalithic tradition on one of its surfaces - undoubtedly a structural stone from one of the nearby small passage tombs.
Although I didn't get to visit this Passage Grave up close (in a field full of crop and not part of the Newgrange 'tour') I was able to see it out of the bus window.
Easily seen on the left (when travelling from the visitors centre to Newgrange)
While we were waiting for our turn to enter the passage of Newgrange, Dafydd and myself walked (or more accurately got blown) around the remains of the stone circle.
The stones are large but not as large as Avebury/Stonehenge. They were however big enough to afford shelter from the near gale force wind!
We also walked down to the bottom of the field where a single large standing stone stood.
The stone seemed to align with the entrance to Newgrange?
Two chaps had a long tape measure and were measuring something out across the field – no idea what they were up to?
At last, I get to visit the famous Newgrange – and what a fab place it is!
Now, I know a lot has been said about the reconstruction, restrictions on visiting times etc but despite all this I thoroughly enjoyed my (brief) visit.
Following out bus ride to Knowth, myself and Dafydd jumped on our allotted bus to Newgrange. There were 4 of us on the bus to Knowth – there were 60 of us on two buses going to Newgrange!! As we wound our way through the country lanes I caught my first glimpse of the famous white façade through the trees – I was getting excited! We disembarked and waited for our guide to lead us to the site.
I won't talk about the site itself as I doubt there is anything else I can add.
What I will talk about are the visitor arrangements.
I thought the visitor centre was excellent; housing a very good museum, shop and restaurant.
(Far, far better than what Stonehenge has to offer!)
The organisation of the site bookings/buses was slick and the staff friendly and helpful.
I also thought the entry fee was very reasonable (free for Dafydd)
The only down side for me was the lack of time you had actually at the site to have a good look around and try to get a 'feel' for the place. In saying that I guess with so many people wishing to visit, it is understandable that time is kept to a minimum?
I can't finish without mentioning the chamber – wow! fantastic!
The 'light show' they do is very well done and adds to the occasion.
All in all a most definite 'must see' site.