Meath, a county in Leinster province in eastern Ireland, is
located on the Irish Sea coast. It is situated on Ireland's fertile central
plain. The chief rivers
are the Blackwater and the Boyne.
Livestock raising is the economic mainstay, and there is
some farming of grains and
potatoes. Light industry, limited to the larger towns,
includes textiles and furniture.
Meath was part of the Irish middle kingdom from the 2d
century BC. It was chartered as a county in 1296.
Newgrange is the site of one of the largest of the
graves in the Boyne valley. It measures approximately 85 m
(280 ft) wide and still stands 12 m (40
ft) high, rivaling a companion structure at nearby Knowth.
A single passage 25 m (82.5 ft) in
length leads to a cruciform chamber with characteristic
corbeled roof and with side chambers
containing ornamental stone basins among its grave
furniture. Around the outside of the mound
stood a circle of standing stones, of which 12 now survive.
The stones of the passage and of its
entrance curbstone were ornamented with spiral and other
designs characteristic of megalithic art
in the Atlantic region of prehistoric Europe. The tomb was
in use throughout the late Neolithic
Period of the 3d millennium BC.