Knowth cemetery, Tomb 16: Located at the NE edge of the great mound, Tomb 1C, which this monument predates. Tomb 1 lacks a kerb at this point but the junction between the two mounds is obscured by the fosse of the rath (ME019-030040-) that penetrated the subsoil, and no displaced kerbstones are present. The mound(ext. diam. 8.6m) was constructed on the original humus and consists of a cairn (diam. c. 4.25m) retained by drystone walling (H 0.5m) around the passage, and this is covered by a mound of redeposited boulder clay with shale on top that extends as far as the kerb. However, on the W side it is overlain by mound material from Tomb 1C. The redeposited boulder clay has 5 fragmentary stone settings within it at 2 principal levels that are concentric with the kerb. Sixteen kerbstones and the sockets of three others are recorded NNW-E-SSE, although most kerbstones sat on the humus, and 4 displaced stones from the kerb might also be present. A spread of charcoal from the mound produced a C14 date of 4399 +- 67 bp (3104 +- 146 cal. BC). Artefacts, including Carrowkeel ware, were found in both the pre-mound humus and in the mound itself.
The mound contains a NNE-SSW passage tomb (L 3.8m plus; Wth 0.6-1.1m), which originally opened at the SSW end and was divided into 3 segments by 2surviving sill stones. The innermost of these, together with two wall orthostats that are set perpendicular to the axis of the passage, create an end-chamber. The orthostats are larger towards the chamber end, and some stones redeposited in the mound and chamber could have served as corbels and capstones for the passage. Cremated burials in five stratified deposits, separated by flags and representing at least 16 individuals, were in the chamber and the inner segment of the passage. Nine adults, two of whom were male and one female, as well as four juveniles were amongst the cremated remains, and three infants were in an unburned state (Buckley et al. 2017, 312-3). Time lapses between deposits are indicated by silt layers.
A secondary passage (L c. 3.1m; Wth c. 0.5m) was constructed NW-SE at the S end of the original passage to allow continued access to this tomb after the great mound had been built and truncated the original passage. This secondary passage is built on a base deposit of the primary mound (H 0.5m), and it was walled by a kerbstone of Tomb 1 at SW and a drystone wall at NE. Its outer portion (L 1.9m) was blocked by a transverse stone, and a sillstone separates its inner portion (L 1.17m) from the original passage but this secondary passage was unroofed and had no burial deposits. Art was present on 3 orthostats of the original passage including the two oddly set stones outside the chamber that have art on their hidden faces. It is thought that two of these could have been re-used from Tomb 1A (Eogan and Cleary 2017, 66). The motifs are zigzags and arcs, and one multiple chevron. Two possible corbels from the chamber area have lightly incised chevrons and lozenges.
An inhumation dating from the first millennium AD was inserted into the innermost section of the passage (Eogan 2012, 56-7). During conservation work in 1989 the remaining portions of the mound were excavated when flint debitage and sherds of five Carrowkeel ware vessels, thought to be derived from the Middle Neolithic habitation of Zone D pre-dating the tomb, were found in the mound material together with flakes of greywacke, probably derived from dressing the kerbstones (Eogan and Cleary 2017, 255-6). Bayesian analysis of the six dates available from the primary burials of this tomb suggest a starting date of 3150–2930 cal. BC ending at 3075–2925 cal. BC, which provides a period of use of c. 280 years (with 68% certainty) for this complicated structure (Schulting et al. 2017, 355-9), and accords well with a date of 3335-2900 cal. BC from charcoal in the mound. The mound is completely reconstructed. (Eogan 1984, 109-32, Site 16; 1986, 82-7)
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Date of upload: 10 July 2007
Amended: 16 September 2020
See the attached plans:
_1 Cemetery plan from Knowth 6, Fig. 2:1
_2 Tomb plan, from Knowth 1, Fig. 50
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage