|A plan of Fourknocks.|
Fourknocks, in turn, has a passage that is aligned to approximately 14° azimuth, in the far northeast. Richard Moore and I had suggested that Fourknocks is aligned in the direction of the Baltray standing stones on the northern side of the Boyne Estuary (Island of the Setting Sun, 2006) and that the two stones lined up to point back towards Fourknocks, even though neither site was visible from the other.
It is this alignment – the axis of the Fourknocks alignment – that has yielded fascinating new information.
The photograph on right shows the view out through the passage, with Mullaghteelin barrow indicated on the horizon.
The two stones are circled in red - the larger stone has a bigger circle around it. We didn't have this wonderful program when we wrote Island of the Setting Sun in 2006, but it's wonderful to see how accurate the alignment really is. Whether this alignment was created intentionally is an entirely different matter, but one wonders, given the existence of several long-distance alignments of ancient monuments, if indeed the ancients had skills beyond which we give them credit for.
Here's where it gets really interesting. If you continue the line from Fourknocks beyond Baltray standing stones, you will find that it eventually hits the shoreline on the Irish Sea coast at Clogherhead. It then travels across Dundalk Bay and eventually meets the shoreline of a stony beach on the southern shore of the Cooley peninsula at Rathcor/Templetown. Both of these shores – Clogherhead and Rathcor/Templetown – were locations where stone for Newgrange was sourced.
Newgrange - Monument to Immortality.
Rathcor and Templetown beaches are littered with rocks of all different types and sizes. Most interesting of these are the granite cobbles which, it is said, were brought from this area to Newgrange to be placed among the white quartz stones that decorate the front of the monument. Again, these would have been transported by sea, across Dundalk Bay, around Clogherhead and then up the Boyne.
So, whether by accident or design, the Fourknocks passage points towards two of the three locations from which it is said that stone was sourced for the construction of Newgrange.
There's more ...
Just for the sake of it, I looked at the alignment in the opposite direction, south-southwest from Fourknocks. Interestingly, it points towards the Blessington Lakes in Co. Wicklow, some 30 miles or 50 kilometres distant approximately. Now this really is a stretch of the imagination, I'll readily admit, but we've all been told that Wicklow is the likely source of the milky quartz at Newgrange, although the exact location or quarry from which it was extracted has never been found. I've heard it suggested that Blessington is a possible source. It could have been transported from that area by barge down the Liffey River into the Irish Sea and from there up to the Boyne.
If the Blessington area turned out to be the source of the Newgrange quartz (and it's by no means anything other than a possibility at this point in time), then the Fourknocks alignment would "point to" all of the major sources of stone for the construction of Newgrange - the greywacke from Clogherhead, the granite cobbles from Cooley and the quartz stones from Wicklow. As it stands, we can say that Fourknocks definitely does point to two areas from which stone was sourced. The third remains an unknown, but Blessington is a possibility.
More recently, Rockabill islands off the coast of Dublin have been suggested as a possible source of the milky quartz at Newgrange. This is equally interesting, because the larger of the two standing stones at Baltray points towards Rockabill for winter solstice sunrise.
Just to finish, the Fourknocks alignment also points to a peak called Eagle Mountain in the Mourne Mountains in the far distance, which are easily visible from Fourknocks on a clear day. I'm not sure if there's any particular significance to this peak to tie in with the alignment. Geologists have told us that the cobble stones from Rathcor/Templetown have their origin in the Mournes. It has recently been revealed that an x-ray study of the granite cobbles of Newgrange is to be undertaken to ascertain their precise original source. Read more here.