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Knowth, County Meath, Ireland

Kerbstones
Kerbstones

"All of these mounds have a hole straight down into them. When you go up top, you'll see," says the guide at Knowth.

County Meath, Ireland, is one of the earliest known developments – older than Stonehenge, older than the Pyramids. The giant grassy mound of Knowth looms ahead of me, the land around it peppered with smaller mounds. Small boulders called "kerbstones" ring the mound, most with designs carved into them. Originally, these helped hold the mound up. Today, however, this task is performed by a concrete ledge built just above the stones.

"So people can see the stones," we're told.

The intrusion of the cement bursts the authenticity bubble somewhat, but the entire thing had been excavated anyway. And the stones are a marvel to behold. Esoteric symbols, wavy lines and concentric circles are carved into the stone, giving a glimpse into thoughts of some of the earliest civilizations of mankind.

There is debate as to their meaning. Are they symbols, writing of some kind? Celestial diagrams? Simply art, perhaps? The second seems most likely, as Knowth (as well as the two other nearby passage tombs of Newgrange and Dowth) had east and west passages perfectly aligned to the cycles of the sun.

While cremated remains were found in the center of the mound, it seems more set to worshiping the heavens than merely serving as a tomb. The passages no longer line up properly – but that’s a testament to the historical lifespan of the mound. These mounds have been used almost continuously by different societies since the Celts built them some 5,000 years ago.

Recognized for defensive benefits in what was historically a contentious zone along the east coast of Ireland, Knowth had forts constructed atop it &mdash even a moat carved into its outer edge, which did the most damage to the alignment of the passages. On a loop in the River Boyne, the mound saw use up through the Christian era, with a few houses constructed on it during the 1700s before it was left to nature.

So everything we see is a reconstruction, an artificial return to mankind's earliest days. Never mind the concrete. I'm thinking this as I peer down the hole in the top of one of the satellite mounds, right before the guide yells at me for being on top of it. She'd said, "When you go up top," right? Besides, after thousands of years, what's one more set of feet?

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Kerbstones
Kerbstones

"All of these mounds have a hole straight down into them. When you go up top, you'll see," says the guide at Knowth.

County Meath, Ireland, is one of the earliest known developments – older than Stonehenge, older than the Pyramids. The giant grassy mound of Knowth looms ahead of me, the land around it peppered with smaller mounds. Small boulders called "kerbstones" ring the mound, most with designs carved into them. Originally, these helped hold the mound up. Today, however, this task is performed by a concrete ledge built just above the stones.

"So people can see the stones," we're told.

The intrusion of the cement bursts the authenticity bubble somewhat, but the entire thing had been excavated anyway. And the stones are a marvel to behold. Esoteric symbols, wavy lines and concentric circles are carved into the stone, giving a glimpse into thoughts of some of the earliest civilizations of mankind.

There is debate as to their meaning. Are they symbols, writing of some kind? Celestial diagrams? Simply art, perhaps? The second seems most likely, as Knowth (as well as the two other nearby passage tombs of Newgrange and Dowth) had east and west passages perfectly aligned to the cycles of the sun.

While cremated remains were found in the center of the mound, it seems more set to worshiping the heavens than merely serving as a tomb. The passages no longer line up properly – but that’s a testament to the historical lifespan of the mound. These mounds have been used almost continuously by different societies since the Celts built them some 5,000 years ago.

Recognized for defensive benefits in what was historically a contentious zone along the east coast of Ireland, Knowth had forts constructed atop it &mdash even a moat carved into its outer edge, which did the most damage to the alignment of the passages. On a loop in the River Boyne, the mound saw use up through the Christian era, with a few houses constructed on it during the 1700s before it was left to nature.

So everything we see is a reconstruction, an artificial return to mankind's earliest days. Never mind the concrete. I'm thinking this as I peer down the hole in the top of one of the satellite mounds, right before the guide yells at me for being on top of it. She'd said, "When you go up top," right? Besides, after thousands of years, what's one more set of feet?

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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