Fresh Eire Blog
Brú Na Bóinne is about 8 km inland from Drogheda and is the name given to an area rich in archaeological remains which include Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, situated within a bend in the River Boyne. In recognition of the international importance of these monuments and the many associated sites in the area, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has designated Brú Na Bóinne a World Heritage Site.
Constructed during the Neolithic or Stone Age, the passage tombs at Brú Na Bóinne are about 5000 years old. The people who built these monuments belonged to a thriving farming community who used simple tools of wood and stone. Nevertheless, they had within their society expertise in architecture, engineering, geology, art and astronomy. As the name implies, passage tombs consist of a passage leading into a chamber where the remains of the dead were placed. A large mound of stones or earth covers the passage and chamber, which in turn is retained at is base by large boulders, called kerbstones. The time and labour invested in the construction of the tombs implies a well-organised society with specialized groups responsible for different aspects of work.
The passage at Newgrange points to the south east and is just less than 19 metres long. It leads into a chamber with three recesses. A corbelled roof covers the chamber. To construct the roof, the builders overlapped layers of large rocks until the roof could be sealed with a capstone, 6 metres above the floor. After 5000 years the roof at Newgrange is still waterproof. The flat-topped cairn or mound covering the chamber is almost 0.5 ha. in extend. It is roughly circular and is estimated to weigh 200,000 tonnes in total. It is made up of water-rolled stone from the terraces of the River Boyne. Excavations showed that white quartz stone, from quartz veins in the Wicklow Mountains and other areas and round granite boulders, from the Mourne and Carlingford areas, were used to build a revetment wall above the kerb along the front of south side of the mound. As is usual in Irish passage tombs, the recess on the right as one enters is the largest and most ornate. On its floor are two stone basins, one inside the other. The upper basin, worked with flint tools from granite, is a superb example of the skill of the Neolithic craft workers. The lower stone basin must have been positioned before the roof was closed because it would have been too large to bring inside once the chamber had been completed. The other two recesses have sandstone basins – treasure hunters broke the basin in the back recess at the end of the 18th century.
The art of the passage tomb builders has stimulated interest since the monuments first came to notice. Some of the art is spectacular – wonderful combinations of spirals, lozenges, chevrons, triangles and arrangements of parallel lines and arcs. The designs were first lightly incised and then picked out with a flint of quartz point. Sometimes the area around a design was picked away to form a relief or else the entire stone was pick-dressed after the designs were completed. The entrance stone at Newgrange and Kerbstone 52 at the back of the monument are highly-accomplished pieces of sculpture, regarded as some of the finest achievements of European Neolithic Art.
Of the many notable features at Newgrange, certainly the most famous is the small opening, the roof box, situated above the passage entrance and discovered in 1963 during archaeological excavations. At dawn on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21st), and for a number of days before and after, a shaft of sunlight enters the chamber through an opening in the roof-box. The rays first hit the edge of the broken basin stone at the back of the chamber floor and then, as the sun rises higher, the beam broadens and moves down the passage. The alignment is so accurate that there is very little chance that it was accidental. Modern research suggests that Newgrange is probably the oldest known deliberately aligned structure anywhere in the world.
Late Neolithic / Early Bronze Age: Beaker People
Around 2000 BC, new people or new ideas reached Ireland. Called the Beaker Period because of the distinctive pottery type associated with it, this time coincides with the rise of metalworking, even though stone tools continued to be used. When Beaker people were living beside Newgrange the monument had fallen into disuse and its entrance was probably blocked by the collapsed cairn. However, its attraction as a focal point of ritual had not waned. Within 10 metres of the passage tomb, Beaker people constructed a huge enclosure which served as a religious centre as important in its day as the passage tomb had been. Archaeological excavations revealed it to be a large double circle of wooden posts (c. 100m. in diameter). Within which portions of animals were cremated and buried in pits. Archaeologists refer to this monument as the Pit Circle.
Newgrange is also surrounded by a circle of standing stones whose purpose are unclear although recent research indicates that it could have had an astronomical function. The Stone Circle was erected sometime after 2000 BC since excavations have shown that one of the stones of the circle lies directly on top of the Early Bronze Age Pit Circle. Originally, there may have been more stones, which have since been dislodged. This was the final phase of building at Newgrange.
From the Celts to the Present
With the coming of the Celts about 500 years BC, Newgrange was transformed from a place where people gathered into a place where their deities lived. In Celtic mythology, Newgrange or Síd im Brúg (the Fairy Mound of the Brú) as it was then known was the home of the greatest of the Celtic gods, Dagda Mór and his son Oengus. The stories of these deities inspired such awe that Newgrange was revered even by visitors from Roman Britain as late as 400 AD. Their votive offerings of coins and jewellery were recovered from around the periphery of the entrance to the tomb. Even though Newgrange appeared as a large overgrown mound, it was recognized as a construction rather than a natural feature, but lay undisturbed most likely because of superstition, well into the Christian era.
There are two ways to get to Inis Mor, by boat or by plane. From Galway, the boat of Aran Island Ferries will take you there by way of a bus shuttle to the ferry port of Rosaveal. Travelling by plane will result in a return ticket with Aer Arann Islands. Both give a different perspective and point of view of the big island. Once you set foot on the island, you can rent a bike and cycle around the island.
Who Angus was is unknown. According to legend, Aonghus belonged to a high-ranking dynasty who were displaced from their lands in Co. Meath in the early centuries AD. Another possible candidate, is Aonghus Mac Natfráich, King of Cashel in the 5th century AD, who had dynastic affiliations with Aran.
Recent excavations by a team from The Discovery Programme found evidence for human activity on the hilltop stretching over two and a half thousand years (c. 1500BC – 1000AD). First enclosed ca. 1100BC, the most dynamic period in the history of this hillfort was around 800BC. At that time, Dún Aonghasa was probably the political, economic and ritual centre for a group of people with a common ancestry. Only the elite members of this group would have lived in the fort. After 700BC, the importance of the site waned and, over the following thousand years, it seems to have been occupied only intermittently. A major rebuilding programme was undertaken in the Early Medieval period (500 – 1000AD) but the fort was abandoned shortly afterwards. Dún Aonghasa became a National Monument at the end of the 19th century and was extensively repaired shortly afterwards. It is now conserved by the Office of Public Works.
Covering an area of 5.7 hectares (14 acres), the interior of the hillfort is divided into an outer, middle and inner enclosure by three curvilinear walls terminating at the cliff. An additional stretch of wall runs along west side and, when the fort was occupied, there was probably a ‘safety wall’ along the cliff-edge. Outside the middle closure is a broad band of chevaux de frise (closely-set stone pillars) that even today are difficult to negotiate.
The original approach to the fort was from the north and the main entrances through the outer and middle walls face in this direction. Today, the entry point is through a breach in the outer wall, but the original doorway can be seen at some distance to the right.
The original doorway to the middle enclosure, about 50m to the right of the present entrance, is now blocked up because of the poor condition of the roof lintels. The entrance would have been closed off by a wooden gate and the sudden drop inside the threshold was probably designed to trip any unwanted visitors. The bodies of two young men were interred in the paved entrance around 1000AD. These may have had Viking connections but there was no evidence to suggest that they died violently.
The inner enclosure wall measuring 5m in width, was built up in layers so that the foundations could be stepped over rising ground. Originally, it was probably about 6m high and ca. 6500 tonnes of stone were used in its construction. The terrace on the interior gave access to the wall top and the small chamber in the west side of the wall may have been used for storing precious or perishable goods.
The stone foundations of seven houses were found in the inner enclosure. The floors were paved and a number had a stone hearth. The outline of a circular house, ca 5m in diameter, is still visible near the west wall. Its foundations are partly covered by the enclosing wall, indicating that the house predates the final alterations to the defences. A stone trough the outside door was probably used either for storing water, keeping shellfish fresh or for boiling meat using the hot-stone cooking method. In addition to meat and cereals, fish and shellfish were an important part of the diet of the Late Bronze Age occupants. Almost 8 tonnes of limpet shells were found during the excavations. Most of the tools in everyday use (hammers, axes, whetstones and quern stones) were made from stone. Clothing was made from wool or leather and fastened with bone pins; the range of needle types found also showed that the Late Bronze Age people used a wide variety of organic materials.
The rock platform at the cliff edge may have had a ritual or ceremonial function and a hoard of four bronze rings deliberately buried beside it was probably an offering to a deity. At the opposite end of the inner enclosure, a large hearth seems to have been associated with communal feasting and with the casting of bronze weapons and tools.
Glasgow is the other of the two biggest and intriguing cities in Scotland. Its rich history and contribution to the world over the centuries demonstrates Glasgow is a city which has always punched above its weight. No trip to Glasgow is complete without a kilt of MacGregor & MacDuff. Our intern, Mark Zwerus, named a few attractions, hotels and restaurants.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Grand Central Hotel
The Sandyford Hotel
Hutchesons City Grill
Top attractions in Edinburgh
National museum of Scotland
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Royal Mile
The Whisky Experience
The Old Waverley
Forage And Chatter
Yes, there indeed is a difference. Holland is not the Netherlands. But why do people know Holland but have almost never heard of the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is the actual name of the country. Although people often refer to it as Holland because Holland has been, and still is, the buzzing west of the Netherlands. The Netherlands are divided into 12 provinces. The most known are North and South Holland. People often muddle them up and Holland becomes the name of the country instead.
History gives us another good reason. In the time of William of Orange and Philip the second, we see that William of Orange, also referred to as William the Silent, was not exactly on good terms with Philip the second. William inherited lands from his cousin. These lands are now known as the Netherlands and Belgium, but at that time they were called the Low Lands. Many different cultures lived there. When Philip got cross with William, William made Amsterdam his base of operations because he knew the area very well. At that time, the Low Lands were in the middle of revolution against the Catholic Church. Philip sent an army to the Low Lands to regain control. William united the people living in the Low Lands under the name of the Dutch Republic and reigned from the province of Holland. Eventually the Republic won the war and became independent with Amsterdam as its capital.
In the 17th century, which is the golden age for the Netherlands, ships of the Republic were seen all over the world. Whenever people asked where the captain of the ship was from, they would answer with the name of their province. This was almost always Holland. But things went sour for the Republic. The only important province was Holland. Holland took care of almost half of the income of the country. On top of that, the Republic was at war with England, France and the German Bishoprics. This year, 1672, is known as Rampjaar (Disaster Year).
Later on, the Netherlands was conquered by Napoleon and became part of France as a unitary state.
It was in the time of Napoleon that North and South Holland were born. Napoleon shaped the Netherlands and split Holland into two separate parts. These parts were reunited after Napoleon’s defeat but Holland was given two governors instead of one. And so, the Netherlands were divided as both governors did what was best for their respective part of Holland. And so, the people decided to split Holland back into two, South and North Holland.
Holland is indicated in red.
To sum it all up, Holland is a part of the Netherlands and consists of two parts. Holland was historically and economically the most known but that does not make all people in the Netherlands someone from Holland. So, people from Holland are part of the Dutch people who live in the Netherlands and not all Dutch people from the Netherlands are from Holland.