Travelling to study ancient history and structures is a popular reason for many people to embark on a world trip. While there are many famous places in the world, the Giza Pyramids and Stonehenge, few can match the beauty of Ireland. With its slow rolling hills and fields of green, it is easy to see how it became known as the Shamrock Island.
Ireland is home to many sites which date older than 5000 years. These sites include Dolmens, Stone Circles, Standing Stones and Passage Graves that are all located within this beautiful land. For a traveler interested in these things, a long and dangerous trip to the Middle East is not required. In fact, you don’t even have to leave Europe. There is also no language barrier to cross or temperatures above 37 degrees Celsius.
The Massive Site of Newgrange
Newgrange is a huge site thought to be an ancient temple. The site is over 13m in height and covers a circular area of 80m. It is estimated to be over 5000 years old. That is roughly 3000 years OLDER than the Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange is believed to be the location that the famous warrior Cuchulainn was conceived. The quarry from where the stones originate is thought to be in Wicklow, which is 80km to the South of the site. Some of the Standing Stones have Neolithic art inscribed on them. This is a massive site and a required stop for anyone in the area of Boyne Valley, in Meath County.
The Easily Recognizable Dolmen of Poulnabrone
This Dolmen is located on the Western Seaboard of Ireland, in Claire County. In 1986 a team unearthed 16 skeletons from the site that dated to 3800 B.C. The site itself is believed to be older than 5000 years! If you find a postcard or image of Dolmens in Ireland, this is the one you will see. It is sometimes referred to as the Most Photographed Neolithic Site of Ireland.
Respect the Dead
In the County of Sligo, a megalithic Cemetery known as Carrowmore is located. The site is believed to be older than the Newgrange site by at least 700 years. It is estimated to be one of the largest and oldest cemeteries in all of Europe. Carrowmore consist of 60 dolmens and a number of Passage Graves. Some of these graves are on Private land. The site covers an area of 5 km square and is a central point of many of the local Cairns. The site is also connected to another megalithic site known as Carrowkeel.
See a Shield from 700 B.C.
The largest of all the stone circles in Ireland, Lough Gur, is completely massive. It is estimated that this site contains 113 stones. The Lois, as it is sometimes called, is believed to be about 4000 years old. It is located 18 km south of the city of Limerick. Lough Gur was believed to be a settlement with many other sites including Standing Stones, Dolmens, and Passage Graves found within its borders. The Lough Gur Interpretive Centre has even constructed replica houses in the area to show how they may have looked while occupied. The local museum has a number of artifacts that include a reproduction of a shield that dates back to 700 B.C.
Follow in St. Patrick’s Footsteps
Near the well-known site of Newgrange lies two hills that overlook the plains of Meath. The sites are known as the Hill of Slane and the Hill of Tara. Located in the North is the Hill of Slane. This location was used in many ancient rituals and gatherings. This is also believed to be the spot that St. Patrick explained the idea of the holy trinity to the pagans using a shamrock for an example. The Hill of Tara is thought to be a temple associated with the goddess Maeve. Tara was once the center of ancient Irish culture. Many religious and official courts were held in this sacred spot.
The land of Ireland is full of sites similar to these. It is estimated that there are over 40,000 sites in both Ireland and across the British Islands. These sites see the height of tourism around the 21st of June. The reason is because most of the ancient Dolmens, Passage Graves, and Stone Circles are orientated to the Summer Solstice. You may visit any time but the Solstices are the most popular. Most of these places offer affordable tours or a small entrance fee.
If you are from Ireland and want to see similar structures, America has a few. Most of the sites in America are located in the Northeast but they extend the whole length of the Mississippi River. Visiting America has become a lot easier with the introduction of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This is a small form that you may fill out to make travelling to the United States easier. The ESTA is a way to visit the US, without a Visa, if you are a citizen of participating Countries. You are in luck! Ireland is one of only a few countries that offer this. Visit www.esta-registration.eu/ for more detailed information. If you are travelling from the US to Ireland there is a reciprocal arrangement with Ireland, as long as Trump’s plans to close the borders are kept from becoming a reality.
For the history buffs, it has never been easier to visit megalithic sites. Most of the other megalithic structures in the world are located in or around many dangerous countries and areas. Ireland is completely safe. The land itself is very beautiful with ocean views and a mild climate. The other advantage is that everyone speaks English. There is no need to worry about being able to understand signs or guides. Most of these site offer special tours which lets you enter the site and touch some of the stones. In other areas of the world, this is not allowed. Why not go to a beautiful place with ancient history? Pack your comfortable walking shoes and book your trip today!