LivingTravelIreland's Most Impressive Megalithic and Prehistoric Sites

Ireland's Most Impressive Megalithic and Prehistoric Sites

Megalithic Ireland is timeless, and prehistoric Irish monuments are a magnet for visitors even millennia after it was forgotten who built them and why. Many visitors to Ireland are drawn to the island’s many megalithic and prehistoric artifacts. Built a few thousand years ago by unknown people, with an intention we know nothing about, they still hold a certain fascination today. Either because of the great impact on the landscape, because of the construction works necessary at that time or because of the mystical background (often simply assumed). But what are the best monuments to visit?


What is Newgrange?
Newgrange is a reconstructed passage tomb with a cruciform inner chamber.

Where is Newgrange?
You will find the tomb between Slane and Drogheda in County Meath – access is via the Bru na Boinne Visitor Center and by guided tour only.

Why is Newgrange important?
This tomb represents the art of the megalithic builder at its zenith.

What will you see in Newgrange?
Most of the historical and astronomical background will be explained in detail by the visitor center, the actual tour will take you to the inner chamber for a simulated winter solstice.

Why should you visit Newgrange?
It is the most important megalithic site in Ireland.


What is Carrowmore?
A megalithic cemetery, actually the largest in Ireland.

Where is Carrowmore?
Just a few miles from Sligo and forming a triangle with the Tomb of Queen Maeve and Benbulben.

Why is Carrowmore important?
The size of the megalithic cemetery is only reason.

What will you see at Carrowmore?
Tombs of all shapes and sizes can be found. The small visitor center provides basic information while a self-guided tour takes you to the most important tombs.

Why should you visit Carrowmore?
If you are interested in the “mysteries of the earth,” you will immediately notice several impressive alignments.

He knows

What is knowing?
Knowth is a reconstructed passage tomb with two passages.

Where is Knowth?
You will find the tomb between Slane and Drogheda in County Meath – access is via the Bru na Boinne Visitor Center and by guided tour only.

Why is Knowth important?
This tomb has two opposite passages, both with a solar alignment.

What will you see in Knowth?
The visitor center will explain most of the historical and astronomical background in detail, the actual tour will take you around the site.

Why should you visit Knowth?
Although less known than neighboring Newgrange, Knowth is actually more interesting to many visitors.


What is Loughcrew?
The second largest megalithic cemetery in Ireland.

Where is Loughcrew?
Just south of Oldcastle (County Meath).

Why is Loughcrew important?
Loughcrew has a series of passage tombs with solar alignments and intriguing works of rock art.

What can you expect in Loughcrew?
Various graves in complete or incomplete states: keys to the main grave are available (see local signs). The rock art is incredible… but the climb from the parking lot is steep!

Why should you visit Loughcrew?
The tombs are accessible for free and simply spectacular. The impressive view makes up for the equally impressive climb.

The country hill

What is the Hill of Tara?
It is said to be the site where the court of the High King of Ireland took place.

Where is the hill of Tara?
North West Dublin.

Why is the Hill of Tara important?
Tara was an important place for centuries as a royal seat (or ceremonial place), closely related to Saint Patrick.

What will you see on the hill of Tara?
In addition to the visitor center in a disused church, there are many earthworks to explore.

Why should you visit the Hill of Tara?
Because she played such a central role in Irish history and has many legendary and mythical overtones, Tara is a must for anyone interested in Ireland’s past.

Dolmen Poulnabrone

What is the Dolmen Poulnabrone?
A massive erection in the middle of nowhere, this is the prototypical dolmen.

Where is the dolmen?
Located right in the middle of Burren (County Clare).

Why is the Dolmen Poulnabrone important?
This is one of the most impressive monuments in the area and simply a typical example of a dolmen.

What will you see in Poulnabrone?
Some standing stones with a capstone resting on them. It sounds like little, actually, until you realize that the capstone weighs as much as a tank.

Why should you visit the Dolmen Poulnabrone?
You won’t see a better dolmen in a more appropriate landscape.

Tomb of Queen Maeve

What is the tomb of Queen Maeve?
Sorry, but nobody knows. It is a pile of stones artificially erected on top of Knocknarea, known to be the tomb of the legendary Queen Maeve.

Where is the tomb of Queen Maeve?
Just south of Sligo.

Why is Queen Maeve’s Tomb important?
As one of the few well-known but unexplored megalithic sites in Ireland, it continues to inspire fringe legends and theories.

What will you see at the Tomb of Queen Maeve?
An impressive pile of stones on top of a mountain. And the whole bay of Sligo.

Why should you visit the Tomb of Queen Maeve?
Location, location, no other prehistoric site has such a picturesque appeal.

Fort Navan

What is Fort Navan?

We don’t know for sure, but it seems to have been some kind of ceremonial place in its heyday.

Where is Navan Fort?
Near Armagh.

Why is Navan Fort important?
Navan Fort must have been one of the most important (royal) sites in Northern Ireland and could well be one of the ‘palaces’ mentioned in ancient Irish epics.

What will you see at Navan Fort?
Mainly earthworks and a modern visitor center.

Why should you visit Navan Fort?
This is one of the lesser known prehistoric sites in Ireland, but full of mystery and arguably rival to many other (better known) sites.

Dun Aenghus

What is Dun Aenghus?
Dun Aenghus is a strong promontory, surrounded by walls on three sides, with a simple drop into the ocean that forms the rest of the defenses.

Where is Dun Aenghus?
You will find it on the southern cliff of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands.

Why is Dun Aenghus important?
The impressive choice of location makes Dun Aenghus a sure winner. Unless you suffer from vertigo.

What will you see in Dun Aenghus?
The stone walls are strong enough to keep armies at bay, and a simple descent into the ocean discourages any attack from behind.

Why should you visit Dun Aenghus?
You will know when you are there.


What is Fourknocks?
A passing grave with a difference: the inner chamber is much larger than others in relation to the size of the mound.

Where is Fourknocks?
You will have to look for Fourknocks near Clonalvy (County Meath).

Why is Fourknocks important?
Because it is unusual: similar passage tombs are generally only found in Portugal!

What will you see at Fourknocks?
From the outside, a steep, grassy hill – look for the Tomb Key locally to see just how different Fourknocks really is.

Why should you visit Fourknocks?
Because it is different, unique, and perhaps a clue to former overseas contacts.

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