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Excavations at Knowth Volume 7: The Megalithic Art of the Passage Tombs at Knowth, Co. Meath

by  George EoganElizabeth Shee Twohig
€ 70.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

March 2022


Number of pages: 902

ISBN: 9781911479420


PDF icon Advance Information

The complex of passage tombs at Knowth is dated c. 3200–2900 BC, and this volume deals with one of the most significant aspects of the site. It presents a complete catalogue of the 390 recorded carved stones at Knowth, through descriptions, drawings and photographs. Six main styles of art have been identified and these are discussed, together with the motifs and techniques employed. The Knowth carvings constitute c. 46% of all such art in Ireland, and the volume sets the Knowth art in the context of the other Irish carvings, those in western and northern Britain, and also the somewhat earlier art found on megalithic tombs in Atlantic Europe.

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'… it is hoped that the terminology now used by the authors will be adopted as the terminological ‘gold standard’ … this is an impressive volume. It deserves to be read by all scholars with even a passing interest in megalithic art and/or Neolithic Europe. It will stand as a monumental testament to the authors for many years to come.' Andrew Meirion Jones, Stockholm University, European Journal of Archaeology 26 (3) 2023, 378–405, Summer 2023

"This substantial volume represents a fitting coda to almost sixty years of research led by Professor George Eogan [and] the culmination of over five decades of research on megalithic art by Dr Elizabeth Shee Twohig...There is plenty here for both the specialist and the amateur alike...This is an absolutely essential book for anyone with an interest in megalithic art and the European Neolithic, and comes highly recommended." Dr Stephen Davis (UCD), Irish Arts Review, Spring 2022

‘This fabulous tome deals with one of the most famous aspects of the Great Mound and its satellite tombs—the megalithic art found on their kerbstones and in their passage chambers. … Though it comes at the end of a series of monographs, this book does not claim to be the final word on its subject. Rather, it is a valuable record of the subject material and research to date, a tribute to the individuals who have taken part in work at the site as well as on the publication, and a touchstone for future generations of researchers.’ Sharon Greene (editor), Archaeology Ireland, Autumn 2022.

‘This is a hugely important publication for our understanding of megalithic rock art and megalithic tombs. …essential…for anyone interested in megalithic tombs and Irish prehistory.’ Ulster Archaeological Society, Spring 2022 Newsletter.

'In providing access to Knowth’s rich iconography, with the use of high-quality photographs and illustrations and a contextualisation that integrates the distinct biographies of the decorated stones, their geological provenance (chapters 3 and 4), their location both within and outside the monuments (catalogue), this volume presents the intensity and relevance of megalithic art as a substantial part of the discussion of funerary practices. … This volume is, without a doubt, a fundamental work that will drive forward the knowledge of megaliths in Europe, on the basis of the study of the art that forms part of the biography of these stones.'  Professor Primitiva Bueno Ramírez (Universidad de Alcalá de Henares), Trabajos de Prehistoria 79 (2) 2022; with thanks to Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin for the translation.

About the authors

George Eogan

George Eogan BA, PhD, DLitt, LittD(hc), MRIA, FSA, was an Irish archaeologist with particular interest in the Neolithic and Late Bronze Ages. He was professor emeritus of Celtic Archaeology at University College Dublin. He was the director of the Knowth excavations for almost 40 years, as part of his research into the passage tomb builders in Ireland and Western Europe, and the results of his work in this area were published in an extensive series of books and papers. He also served as a member of Seanad Éireann.

Elizabeth Shee Twohig

Elizabeth Shee Twohig MA, PhD, MRIA, FSA, is a graduate of University College Cork, and was senior lecturer in Archaeology there until her retirement in 2007. Her research interests in megalithic art and megalithic tombs began when she worked on M.J. O’Kelly’s excavations at Newgrange in the 1960s. She is author of The megalithic art of Western Europe (Oxford University Press) and Irish megalithic tombs (Shire Publications), has published widely in academic journals across Europe, and has edited a number of books. In addition, she has served on a range of committees, councils and advisory bodies in archaeology, and was a vice-president of the Royal Irish Academy between 2004 and 2007.