Madigan announces further stunning archaeological discoveries at the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site

Josepha Madigan,  T.D. , Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, today unveiled further stunning photographs of newly discovered archaeological features across the Boyne Valley landscape and Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site.

“Following on from earlier discoveries, including by the National Monuments Service, I commissioned further flights over this area last week while the dry weather conditions persisted”, the Minister said.

“The results, which are still being analysed by the National Monuments Service, are simply awe inspiring”, she added.

“It will take some time to fully understand the place and relevance of these archaeological features and to comprehend the scale of what was clearly a very advanced civilisation.“

“Today, I am putting some further images into the public domain. These illustrate the secrets this landscape has held for thousands of years and which the recent spell of dry weather has revealed for us.”

In commissioning this further work, Minister Madigan stressed that she was “very conscious that we have perhaps a very rare opportunity to understand more about our heritage and forebears. As the proverb says. . .. ‘Is olc an ghaoth nach séideann maitheas do dhuine éigin’“

The Minister added, “This investment in the past will inform many generations of archaeologists, scholars,  historians and indeed the broader public understanding of where we, as an island nation, came from and indeed the possibilities of where we could go. Illuminating our past and our ancient landscapes, these shadows, cast by our forebears from thousands of years ago, fall gently on our shoulders, just as we stand on the shoulders of those who built these monuments.”


Editors Notes

National Monuments Service provides further information on archaeological discoveries in the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site

Aerial Discovery

The recent discovery of a large henge-like enclosure within the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site at Newgrange garnered worldwide media interest – it is a remarkable discovery within an already phenomenally rich archaeological landscape.

The henge discovered by Boyne Valley researchers and photographers Anthony Murphy and Ken Williams is a large ceremonial enclosure, which showed up clearly on drone cameras as a cropmark in open farmland. These cropmarks indicate the presence of buried archaeological features. The Newgrange henge enclosure is close to the Great Passage Tomb and is likely to date to the Late Neolithic period, c. 2900 BC.

Other on-going discoveries

In addition to the drone discovery, archaeological research and excavations are ongoing at a site just south of Newgrange Passage Tomb. These excavations are being carried out through the Royal Irish Academy Research Excavation Programme, funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In addition, there has been the announcement of the discovery at Dowth Hall of a new passage tomb complex which is being excavated and presented to the public by Devenish Nutrition, aided by the UCD School of Archaeology.

Follow-up aerial reconnaissance by the National Monuments Service

Following the henge discovery by Anthony Murphy and Ken Williams, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht concluded that there was a very high potential for other sites to also have become visible as cropmarks. The extraordinary dry weather across Ireland and the Northern hemisphere in general has led to reports of many cropmark features becoming visible indicating buried archaeological features that had been previously unknown.

Accordingly the Department’s National Monuments Service (NMS), as State Party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, arranged for an aerial reconnaissance to be carried out over the World Heritage Site Core Area. The aim of the survey was to capture high resolution imagery of archaeological sites and of the Boyne Valley floodplain landscape and to record individual sites as they appeared on the ground.

As a result of this aerial reconnaissance, previously unrecorded archaeology has been discovered and significant additional information on known sites across Brú na Bóinne has also become available. In order to share some of the first findings with the public and other archaeologists a small selection of images are attached here.

Next steps

The National Monuments Service (NMS) will continue its preliminary analysis of its large stock of high resolution imagery taken over recent days, as well as any images received by external researchers and photographers.

As a first step, the findings will be mapped to place all discoveries in the context of the archaeological landscape of Brú na Bóinne. As that analysis progresses, NMS will bring together all stakeholders to share the full results of the survey work and to initiate discussion on future archaeological research aims for Brú na Bóinne.

There is no doubt that there will be further fascinating and intriguing stories to tell concerning the landscape at Brú na Bóinne. It is already very clear that the new discoveries will enhance the appreciation and transform our understanding and knowledge of the story of the prehistoric landscape at Brú na Bóinne. UNESCO has been informed of the nature of the ‘new additions’ to the World Heritage Site.

National Monuments Service

26 July 2018


Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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