Winter Solstice fast approaches, so I thought I’d put together a little post about one of my favourite passage tombs in Ireland – the Knockroe Passage Tomb in county Kilkenny.
Kilkenny’s Hidden Passage Tomb
This is not one of the better known of our ancient passage tombs here in Ireland. Dating from the Neolithic, this wonderful monument is tucked away quite inconspicuously in the rolling hills of County Kilkenny, close to the Lingaun River. Access is very easy, as the site is really well maintained with a little gate to enter. Surrounded by hawthorn and panoramic country views, the atmosphere here is one of wild serenity.
Knockroe has two passages, one to the east and the other to the west. The western passage is particularly interesting as it is aligned with the sunset on the Winter Solstice. I visited it for the Solstice last year, and though it was overcast, the event organisers brought a light that imitated the effect, allowing us to have a sense of what it would be like if the skies were clear.
Knockroe is packed with Neolithic artwork, some in really good condition. There are around thirty decorated stones here, full of spirals and swirls that dance across the surface of the rock. Evoking the artwork of other passage tombs across Ireland and the wider world.
Excavations have been led since the 1990’s here by Professor Muiris O’Sullivan of UCD. He was actually there last year for the Solstice event and gave a wonderful talk about the site in the lead up to sunset.
This is a site that is well worth a visit, as is indeed the entire Linguan Valley. Packed with history and beautiful natural surroundings, its an area that lends itself to exploration and immersion in history.
Im really looking forward to the Winter Solstice this year, especially with the cold snap at the moment. The gentle shift to longer days after the longest night is something I think we’re all looking forward to.