Knockroe Passage Tomb is located in a picturesque setting on the slopes above the Lingaun River. The site dates to around 3000 BC and has many similarities with the far more famous examples at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in the Brú na Bóinne complex in County Meath, albeit on a considerably smaller scale. During its heyday in the fourth millenium BC, the tomb would have appeared as an earthen mound surrounded by large kerbstones, with two stone-lined passageways – one in south-west and the other in the south-east of the mound.
Many of the stones lining the passageways of these tombs at Knockroe are highly decorated with megalithic art such as spirals, hollowed ‘cup marks’, and zigzags. You can still find them in their original locations, and it is impossible not to wonder about the meaning of the art: was it purely decorative or did it have a deeper symbolism, and what messages does it convey?
In another parallel with Newgrange, Knockroe is also aligned to the Winter Solstice. The eastern tomb is aligned with the sunrise, and the western tomb is aligned with the sunset on that day that marks a key changing point of the year.
The tomb was excavated in a series of research digs by Professor Muiris O’Sullivan in the 1990s. The excavations revealed that the tomb was constructed on a prepared platform that countered the natural slope of the ground. The tomb was made up of boulders at the base, with smaller stones forming the cairn on top. There appears to have been a phased development of the monument. The eastern passage appears to be earlier, with the western added when the tomb was enlarged at a later time. Cremated human remains were discovered in both passageways along with bone and antler pins, beads, pendants and fragments of pottery.
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