1975:30 - KNOWTH, Meath

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Meath Site name: KNOWTH

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number:

Author: G. Eogan, Department of Archaeology, University College, Dublin.

Site type: Passage Grave Cemetery

ITM: E 699830m, N 773818m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.704499, -6.488006

The excavations this year were largely taken up with the completion of an area on the NE. side
of the main mound and between it and the public road. There was considerable evidence for activity in that area and various periods were represented:

Four small passage graves. All of these had suffered some damage but despite this they produced a considerable amount of information. Two of these sites had a cruciform-shaped chamber; the other two had chambers of simple plan. All provided evidence for burial. The rite was cremation and in two of the sites there was clear evidence for successive burials. Finds were few but those that did turn up, such as sherds of ‘Carrowkeel’ ware, can be paralleled at other Knowth passage graves. Evidence has also come to light which has established that one of the small passage graves is earlier than the main mound.

Beaker. A layer of dark material, possibly occupation debris, defined an area of activity by Beaker people. This layer covered an area 19 x 14m. and it contained a number of finds, mainly ‘domestic’ pottery and some flints. A number of pits were dug into the subsoil. The largest of these, about l00m. in diameter, was paved with small stones. There were also two fire places, but no evidence for house sites.

There was intense Early Christian occupation around the entrance area to the E. Tomb in the main mound. The settlement overlay the outer ditch which surrounds the large mound and it extended over an area about 30m. in length by 8m. in width. So far the remains of five houses have turned up. These are rectangular structures with a central hearth. The basal portion of the walls were built from stone but the upper part may have been constructed from organic material. Over the floor of two of the houses the remains of straw and carbonised grains of corn turned up. Other finds consisted of small personal ornaments such as bone beads, part of jet armlets and portion of a Viking-type weighing scales. The large complex of souterrains (which has been under excavation for some years) is part of the settlement. To date, four souterrains have been excavated. Not all souterrains or all houses were in simultaneous use; at one point three houses were in stratigraphical order. As yet the dating evidence is not very secure but what is available suggests that the settlement could have started during the eighth century and continued down to the twelfth century.

Click on the link below for  the Royal Irish Academy's online resource for Knowth Excavations:


Everything you wanted to know about Knowth in six volumes