Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
    inner kerb of Site K at Newgrange.
The inner kerb of Site K at Newgrange. Site L is just beyond, and the great mound of Newgrange is across the hedge.

Satellites K and L

Behold the two paps of the king's consort
Here beyond the mound west of the fairy mansion
The spot where Cermait the fair was born,
Behold it on the way, not a far step.

From a dindshenchas poem entitled
Brug na Boinne by Macnia mac Oengusa,
Book of Leinster, 1160.

The Boyne Valley has some forty neolithic monuments all clustered within the Bend of the River Boyne. Aside from the famous mound, there are several other monuments on the ridge of Newgrange. There are three smaller mounds, two to the west and one, Site Z to the east of Newgrange, and there may well have been a fourth mound, Z1 on the east side. These very interesting monuments were excavated by O'Kelly in 1965 and 1966 during his work at Newgrange.

Satellites at Newgrange.
Satellites at Newgrange; image from the O'Kelly survey.

About a hundred yards distant from this mount [Newgrange], are placed two other pyramids, but of a much smaller size, not above a fourth part as big, and like it, are both encompassed with a circle of stones, set at some distance each from another, round their bottoms; but these stones bear a sort of proportion to the dimensions of the mount they surround, and therefore are abundantly less than those encompassing the larger mount.

As yet we know not what may be the fashions or inward contrivance of these two smaller mounts, because their caves or passages leading to them have not been hitherto discovered; but such an attempt were easy, by reason of the smallness of the mounts, did any person's leisure or curiosity incline them after such antiquities.

Sir Thomas Molyneux, 1711.

Site K

Site K is probably the older of the two mounds and is an extremely interesting monument. It is about twrnty meters in diameter and has thirty-four kerbstones, one bearing engravings. The chamber is undifferentiated, but has a small triangular 'annex' added to the right side, which was not accessible from the chamber.

The passage is nine meters long and opens towards the south. The passage and chamber were separated by a decorated sillstone with interesting carvings on both sides. Seven stones bearing decoration were found in total at Site K.

Site K during the 1966 excavations.
Site K during the 1966 excavations, showing the first phase of the monument before it was extended.

The monument was built in two phases; the smaller inner monument can be seen in the excavation photo above, is 8 meters in diameter with a passage 5 meters long. An unusual feature, a ditch was dug around the original monument, three meters out from the kerb.

At some later stage the passage was extended and a new outer kerb was added bringing the diameter to twenty meters. A smaller inner ring of boulders was found between the chamber and the original kerb on the west side. Such inner rings are found at several other sites such as nearby Knowth, Townley Hall and Carrowmore, and may indicate that the monument had a freestanding phase.

Also during the excavation, a displaced capstone was discovered, which had been pushed down behind the chamber. A blocking stone was found in the entrance to the passage.

Plan of Site K and L.
Plan of Site K and L, sixty meters west of Newgrange, from the O'Kelly survey.

The only find from Site K came from the chamber: a small white marble, possibly made of hard chalk. It has been speculated that these marbles, which are often found at these sites, may represent a seed, or perhaps the soul of the individual who was cremated. Several were found in the chamber of Newgrange. They are usually burnt and cracked by the heat of the cremation pyre.

Claire O'Kelly's plan of Site K.
Claire O'Kelly's plan of Site K.

Site L

The mound of Site L was largely destroyed by the time it was excavated. These lands were part of the 'Grange' of Mellifont Abbey, and during medieval times the land was ploughed frequently. The mound was about twenty-three meters in diameter and had a large cruciform chamber which opened towards the south. The passage was eleven meters in length.

An interesting decorated stone from the kerb of Site L. After Claire O'Kelly.
An interesting decorated stone from the kerb of Site L. After Claire O'Kelly.

Much damage was done to this mound by the building of a lime kiln in the passageway. Finally, the ESB erected some poles on the site, digging three holes and causing yet more damage. The mound of Site L is unusual in that it is mainly composed of sand, mixed with turves.

Six decorated stones were found at this site. A seventh carved stone, which was illustrated by Lhuyd's draftsman in 1699, has vanished. An illustration of this stone survives in the Stowe manuscript.

These sites are on private land beside the Newgrange compound.

Looking north into the passage of Site K
Looking north into the passage of Site K, in the field to the west of Newgrange. The passage extension outside the original kerb can be clearly seen, as can the blocking stone. The mounds of Knowth are visible one kilometer to the west