Knockroe Passage Tomb, Kilkenny

Knockroe Passage Tomb lies in Kilkenny roughly 13 kilometres from either Callan or Carrick on Suir and close to the Tipperary border.

The Passage Tomb is approximately 5000 years old (Stone age) and similar to its larger cousins at Newgrange and Loughcrew.

It's amazing to think that these ancient monuments are lying in Irish fields and free to visit.

Many of the larger Stones (Orthostats) on the site are covered with Cup Marks and various types of Rock Art. As show in the photographs the Cairn is long since gone. 

Scattered around there are lots of small white quartz stones just like the stones used to reface Newgrange so I assume that Ireland's earliest farmers from the neolithic period were fond of white quartz and perhaps either faced parts of their structures with it or used it for pathways or external roofing. 

A mass of white Quartz probably shines brightly for quite a distance on a sunny day. The passages at Knockroe are also astronomically aligned both with the rising and setting Sun on the 21st of December.
This is very unusual and possibly makes Knockroe the only Passage Tomb in Ireland where both passages are aligned in this manner.

The artwork on the larger stones is quite beautiful. Between Art and Astronomy we can take it that the Neolithic peoples were quite advanced. Farming encouraged complex early belief systems in order to attract adherents and followers to sustain a working population. Crops don't harvest themselves.

Previous Mesolithic inhabitants of Ireland who were hunter gatherers and roamed in very small groups had no need for the complex belief systems and buildings of the early farmers.

It is a testament to the success of the Neolithic peoples that it's estimated within a few Centuries almost all trace of the Mesolithic had disappeared in Ireland. Belief systems had probably persuaded most to convert and join the Neolithic peoples and their farming communities (or conflict may have decimated the hunter gatherers) and so they left behind a healthier life for a life of toil and farming, far more unhealthy than their previous way of life.

It's interesting to look at these structures and imagine that these early societies which took to farming laid the very first keystones for the way we live now in the technological 21st Century.

Places such as Knockroe are a joy to visit. On our visit the sun was shining brightly and there wasn't another soul to be seen...

In comparison, Newgrange a few weeks ago was awash with visitors.