Bending The Boyne won first place, historical fiction, Next Generation Indie Awards 2011. This novel is based on archaeology in the vein of Jean Auel’s Clan series in prehistoric Europe, plus a dash of the earliest Gaelic myths.
Bending the Boyne: A Pathway to the Stars
Guest Post by J. S. Dunn, Author of
Bending the Boyne
Why would anyone track the Neolithic mounds in Ireland? Lots of reasons! First, the great Boyne mound assembly is a UN World Heritage site that holds the majority of Europe’s prehistoric rock art. Second, most passage mounds have a location with spectacular views and require only a moderate hill climb to access.
And finally, if you are in Ireland to find your roots you will have searched as far back as possible. The passage mound tradition began prior to the fourth millennium BCE. If you are one of 40 million plus Irish-Americans you may well share DNA with the bones at these ancient sites. If you can’t find your ancestors due to missing records, give this a try. This experience literally goes to the bone.
How did Eire’s passage mounds begin and why? Let’s begin at the beginning, at the northwest coast.
Carrowmore megalithic “cemetery” has a concentration of small stone passage tombs dating to 4000+ BCE. Several tombs line up with distant tombs on the horizon and hint of alignment with the skies. The visitor center, like most in Ireland, provides excellent flyers that you can read and use during the guided tour or to walk the area on your own.
Carrowkeel to the east in Sligo provides unforgettable views. Perched above an ancient stone village and Lough Arrow are large mounds with unmistakable passages and clear orientations to the sky. The astronomy, the starwatching, had taken hold with the people who built these. This venerable landscape of passage mounds marking high places holds many secrets, empirical knowledge that is still being deciphered.
If you can tear yourself away from a spot that connects your bones with both earth and sky and makes you feel conscious as never before, head southeast to county Meath, to Loughcrew. Here the view sweeps literally to the Mourne mountains in the northeast and the Wicklow Mountains to the southeast. Immense mounds with stone-lined passages dot these heights, called The Storied Hills. Modern archaeology no longer scoffs at the equinox and solstice lovers, the amateurs who gather here to watch light sweep over intricately carved backstones on certain solar dates. Here the ancients captured light and time itself into a calendar of seasons. Plan to spend at least a half day exploring.
The next day you may choose to visit Loughcrew a second time to better absorb its features, or journey on to the biggest passage mounds in all Europe..
Don’t be put off by the narrow, twisting roads to reach the Boyne, or Newgrange as it is called though that is only one of the three major mounds set in a rough triangle at a great bend in the river Boyne. The three mounds are simply enormous. Once you recover from the visual surprise, your tour inside impresses again. Through a passage 19 meters (around 60 feet) in length, one steps into the central chamber that rises to a height of almost 20 feet. The corbelled ceiling in the inner chamber may drop your jaw for its simple but beautiful design that has kept this “passage tomb” dry for over five thousand years.
|Newgrange from the air|
Weeks and months later, you may find yourself dreaming of starflung skies and joyous dancing around bonfires after a starwatch that took place in a pastoral, gentle and ancient era. You may find yourself buying a telescope or joining an astronomy club. After all, it is said we humans are made of stardust.
You can find out more about J. S. Dunn and Bending the Boyne at this website.