The Neolithic passage tombs at Knowth, Co. Meath, date to approximately 3,200BC. The site, consisting of one large tumulus (the Great Mound) and 20 smaller satellite tombs, is older than the Egyptian pyramids; older than Stonehenge. Overall, Knowth has had a history, though not continuous, of ritual and settlement spanning roughly six-thousand years—from the beginning of the Neolithic to the modern era.
The monuments at Knowth represent not just local expressions of ideas and ritual practices spread over extensive geographical areas of western and northern Europe, but also some of the most impressive architectural and engineering developments.
The invaluable research work undertaken at Knowth during the programme of modern excavations that began there in 1962 under the direction of George Eogan is presented in this collection of monographs: the Excavations at Knowth series, published by the Royal Irish Academy with the support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. To date, six volumes have been published in the series.
The first monograph, Excavations at Knowth 1, originally published in 1984, deals with aspects of prehistoric activity at Knowth.
Excavations at Knowth 2 (1997) reports on further aspects of the prehistoric settlement excavated after 1989.
Excavations at Knowth 3: Knowth and the zooarchaeology of Early Christian Ireland (2007) deals with the animal bone assemblage from Knowth and provides the first comprehensive overview of the archaeological evidence for the use of animal resources in Ireland during the Early Christian period.
Excavations at Knowth 4: Historical Knowth and its hinterland (2008) explores the history, settlement and society of Knowth and the wider Brú na Bóinne region, from the emergence of political power in the Boyne Valley to the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Excavations at Knowth 5: The archaeology of Knowth in the first and second millennia AD (2012) examines the archaeology of the site during that time period and presents the artefacts found. Catalogues of both the illustrated and unillustrated artefacts are provided.
Excavations at Knowth 6: The passage tomb archaeology of the Great Mound at Knowth (2017) presents the archaeological history of the achievements of the passage tomb builders who constructed and used the Great Mound (Tomb 1) at Knowth over a period of at least three centuries, c. 3200–2900 BC. It explores tomb morphology, the method of construction of Tomb 1, associated burial deposits, and material culture. In addition, it considers the chronology of Tomb 1 and its inter-relationship with the smaller tombs and the site at Knowth in its broader environment, particularly in relation to available building materials.
The seventh volume in the series is currently in preparation. It will deal with the megalithic art from Knowth.
The Royal Irish Academy is delighted to make the research presented in this series of publications available as an open-access resource through this collection in the Digital Repository of Ireland. The availability of the volumes as an open-access resource means that the material from the excavations to date will be easily accessible for current and future generations of archaeologists to draw on.