Along with a few colleagues, I visited a little-known and little-understood site the other day (with the prior permission of the landowner). It is known as the Monknewtown Pond and it is one of the many monuments in the Brú na Bóinne WHS. It is defined by a circular bank up to 3m high surrounded for half its circumference by a ditch over 2m deep and 3m wide. The interior is about 30m across and is waterlogged and contains standing water for most of the year, apparently a deliberate design feature. The monument sits in a bowl-like feature, possibl a natural glacial feature, which is c.150m across and which has a very slight ‘lip’ around part of its edge; possible the remnants of an outer bank.
Some have suggested that the monument may date to the Neolithic period because it is located in a landscape full of other Neolithic monuments. Apparently, similar monuments are known in Britain in landscapes where there are henge monuments and it is interesting that the Monknewtown Pond is located a few hundred metres from the Monknewtown Henge. Others have pointed to similarities between this monument and a site called the King’s Stables in the Navan Complex in Co. Armagh. Part of this site was excavated and a range of material was recovered suggestive of deliberate ritual deposition and a ceremonial function for that site. This material dated to the Late Bronze Age although it is not clear whether the King’s Stables was first constructed in the Late Bronze Age or earlier.
Whatever the truth about this site it seems to be very well preserved and because of this, and also because the core of the site appears to have been waterlogged for much of its history, it offers huge potential for the recovery of organic material and evidence about the environment in the past. Although it doesn’t look particularly exciting in comparison to some of the other monuments in Brú na Bóinne, it is likely that ther is a lot more there than meets the eye.