Conservation works will improve view of setting sun during solstice

An archaeologist is writing a book about the Knockroe Passage Tomb near Carrick-on-Suir and the recent excavations and conservation work that have take place at the ancient site.

An archaeologist is writing a book about the Knockroe Passage Tomb near Carrick-on-Suir and the recent excavations and conservation work that have take place at the ancient site.

Prof. Muiris O'Sullivan's book will be published before the end of this year.

It has been a busy year at Knockroe Passage Tomb, which is located on the Tipperary/Kilkenny border just a few miles from Carrick-on-Suir.

A season of archaeological excavations have taken place in tandem with the ongoing reinstatement of the monument by the Office of Public Works. The excavations have aided the conservation work and have added to information recovered during the past decade.

Some of the artwork in the west tomb is more similar to decoration in Gavrinis, Brittany than it is to any other site.

There is evidence that the top of Slievenamon was a sacred place during the Neolithic period and Knockroe is one of several Neolithic ceremonial monuments from which the site is visible

The Coshel in Knockroe lies close to the Lingaun River from which there is a clear view, when weather permits, to the cairn on the summit of Slievenamon.

Amongst the outstanding features that mark Knockroe Passage Tomb as a monument of national and international interest is the alignment of the western tomb on the setting sun at mid-winter and mid-summer and the large number of structural stones decorated with megalithic art and the unique similarity between Knockroe and Newgrange in the Boyne Valley.

Conservation work is currently taking place at the Coshel and this will enable visitors to move more safely around the site in the future.

However, the structure is in a fragile condition while work is in progress.

The archaeological excavations took place last September in tandem. Even as conservation work continues, more artwork is being discovered. The reinstatement work at Knockroe is designed to protect the site while making it as visible-friendly as possible.

A few stones that were leaning precariously are being stood back upright.

Other stones that were moved during the excavations are being reinstated to where they were first recorded, and action is being taken to protect the structure and the megalithic art as much as possible.

Specialist geo-spatial testing has confirmed that the alignment has not been affected while the straightening of orthostats has removed an obstruction problem that had begun to affect the solstice experience.

Although the repairs are now complete, reinstatement has been delayed by unfavourable ground conditions due to the recent very severe weather. All the work completed to date will allow the public to enjoy a clearer view of the setting sun this year and apart from straightening stones that had begun to lean across the passage, great care has been taken not to change the solstice experience in any way.