Knocknarea (/ n ɒ kn ə r eɪ /; Irish: Cnoc na Riabh ) [2] is a great hill west of Sligo town in County Sligo, Ireland.

327 meters (1073 feet) high limestone hill is visually striking, because it is monolithic in appearance and stands in a prominent place on the Cúil wandering the peninsula between the bays of Sligo ochBallysadare. At the summit is a large hill (or heap) of the loose stones. Although it has not been excavated, believed to hide a Neolithic passage grave. [1]


Knocknarea is a anglisering of an Irish name. “Knock” means hill, but the etymology of the rest of the name is disputed. The placenta Database of Ireland gives the Irish name Cnoc na Riabh (meaning “hill of stripes”). [1] But PW Joyce preferred the interpretation Cnoc na Riaghadh ( “hill of executions”). Cnoc na Riogha ( “hill of the kings “) have also been proposed [1]that has Cnoc na Ré (” hill of the moon “).

Medb’s Cairn

On top of Knocknarea is a huge mound about 55 meters (180 feet) wide and 10 meters (33 feet) high, making it the largest such cairn in Ireland outside the Brú na Bóinne complex in County Meath. Although it is still unexcavated, and is one of the largest of these monuments still unexplored, it has many of the features of a classic passage grave. [3] It is known in Irish asMeascán Méabha [1] or Miosgan Meadhbha [4 ] importance Medb’s rags (Miosgán means a lump or tap, esp. butter). In English it is known variously as Medb’s Cairn Medb’s grave, Medb nipple or Medb’s tomb (sometimes called Medb’s anglicised as Maeve). It is believed to date to about 3000 f.Kr ..[4] Méabh is a figure in Irish mythology which has in stories that go to the early first millennium CE. Archaeologist Stefan Bergh, in his book Landscape of monuments (Stockholm, 1995), suggests that a great depression some distance west of the mound was the quarry from which the limestone monument was taken.

Listoghil (part of Carrowmore) with Knockarea and Méabh s Cairn in the background

other monuments

Méabh’s Cairn, but by far the largest, is just one of a number of monuments on the top of Knocknarea. In general, the graves are aligned north-south, and they may have been built to meet Carrowmore lowland. Many of the smaller tombs seem to have been small passage tombs; the severely damaged by excavations of antiquarians in the 19th century. [5]

Knocknarea seems to have been a great place of ritual and the meeting of the Neolithic era. The entire top of the mountain on the east side surrounded by a one kilometer (0.6 mi) -Long dike, 2 meters (2 yd) wide and 0.8 meters (3 feet) long. Hut sites have been located on the inside of this area. A large amount of debris from making stone tools have been collected. [5]

The area around Sligo Bay is rich in prehistoric remains, and shares similar monuments and natural forms. From Knocknarea can be seen elsewhere, such as CroaghaunMountain, Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery, and Cairns Hill. Carrowmore passage tomb cemetery is located at the eastern foot of Knocknarea.

Beach, coastal resort, located on the western foot of Knocknarea.Cullenamore an extensive beach area, is further south, and the southern aspect of Knocknarea utsiktBallysadare Bay.


Conservation issues of Knocknarea and Méabh’s Cairn has been discussed in the local press. [6] A large number of visitors causes damage to the heap.Visitors are asked not to climb on the cairn, and not to take the stones from the cairn.


  1. ^ Jump up to: abcdef
  2. Jump up ^ “Cnoc na Riabh / Knocknarea”. (in Irish). Pulled 02/12/2015.
  3. Jump up ^ Bergh, Stefan (1995) Landscape of monuments. A study of the passage tombs in Cúil wander region, Co. Sligo, Ireland . Stockholm: National Heritage Archaeological UndersökningarISBN 9171929452
  4. ^ Jump up to: ab Scarre, Christopher (2002). Monuments and landscapes of the Atlantic Ocean Europe: Perception and society during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 978-0415273145.
  5. ^ Jump up to: ab Bergh, Stefan. (1995) Landscape of monuments. A study of the passage tombs in Cúil wander region, Co. Sligo, Ireland .Stockholm: National Heritage Archaeological Investigations
  6. Jump up ^ “Sligo Weeke: Thousands of feet of destroying our heritage.”09.29.2007. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Taken 12/02/2015.