Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, TD, welcomes discovery of a prehistoric passage tomb cemetery at Dowth Hall, Brú na Bóinne, Co. Meath

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, TD, is today at Dowth Hall in County Meath to see a 5,500 year old passage tomb cemetery discovered over recent months. The passage tomb discovery, which relates to the time of construction the great passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth, is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne.

The significant archaeological discovery was made during conservation and restoration works at Dowth Hall, which was built in the 18th century. Works have been ongoing there since the house and estate were purchased by Devenish Nutrition in 2013. Dr Owen Brennan, Executive Chairman of Devenish Nutrition, is ensuring that the Neolithic discovery will be fully conserved and made accessible to the public, who will be able to visit it during Heritage Week 2018.

Since 2013, Devenish Nutrition has worked with UCD School of Archaeology to carry out research and surveys on the 430 acre Dowth Hall Estate to gain a better understanding of the important archaeological landscape. Archaeological excavations carried out as part of Dowth Hall restoration works by a team of archaeologists directed by Dr Clíodhna Ní Líonáin led to this discovery.

The previously unknown passage tomb cemetery comprises burial chambers and evidence for a large enclosing kerb of stones and evidence of the cairn that once covered the tombs. The structural remains of the passage tomb are estimated to date to around 3300 BC. A number of stones bearing characteristic megalithic art, similar to the decorated stones at Newgrange and Knowth were also discovered.

Speaking ahead of her visit to the discovery, Minister Madigan has welcomed the close co-operation between Meath County Council, Devenish Nutrition, UCD and her own Department’s National Monuments Service in managing the process of excavation, preservation and conservation of the important discoveries and for making arrangements for the public to view the remains of the passage tomb cemetery.

The tomb discovery at Dowth is in addition to other significant archaeological discoveries made in Brú na Bóinne over recent days, including a large enclosure adjacent to the passage tomb at Newgrange which was discovered using drone photography. In addition, archaeological excavations funded by the Department through the Royal Irish Academy are taking place at another site close to the Newgrange tomb.

Minister Madigan said:

“It is most welcome that these new and significant archaeological discoveries have been made. The care that has been taken by Devenish Nutrition to uncover the remains is commendable and it will add immensely to the ever-growing catalogue of important archaeological sites within the magical Brú na Bóinne landscape”.

The Minister added:

I am delighted that plans are already being drawn up for the conservation of the Dowth Hall passage tomb remains, and for the public to view the site during Heritage Week and we are very grateful that Devenish will allow the public access into the future.

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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