A Lost City - in Wicklow?
When archaeologists began excavating the very ancient Stone Age structure at Newgrange they found thousands of tonnes of quartz stones and boulders surrounding it and built into the structure.In fact, the inner walls comprised gigantic quartz boulders. There is no quartz found in the Boyne Valley, the location of the Newgrange complex, and the much larger Knowth complex and smaller Dowth complex. Geologists have long noted that much of the white quartz was originally placed next to granite, and the only place where these two rock formations occur in such proximity is in the Wicklow mountains, 70 miles to the south.
So how did all this rock get to the Boyne Valley?
Archaeologists believe that the stone was quarried in Wicklow and then loaded onto barges, probably on a river. From here the barges made their way down to the Irish Sea and north, along the coast, to the River Boyne. But this was no small-scale operation - it required thousands of people to do the quarrying and transport the rock to the initial port. This kind of operation would have required a permanent or semi-permanent settlement, either a long-term basecamp or an existing settlment.
As previously mentioned, Wicklow has received only a modicum of archaeological study. But the whole county is studded with ancient standing stones and prehistoric mounds, from the Neolithic Stone Age - over 3,500 years ago, and much older.
But where could this ancient city be?
The archaeologists could be wrong and the quarrying might have taken place somewhere along the coast, although white quartz is certainly not common there. If so, then the location would probably have been somewhere on either side of Bray Head or Wicklow Head. Both Bray and Wicklow Town are natural harbours built on river mouths.
But if the archaeologists are right, then there are only two rivers large enough to allow barges access to the mountains - a) the River Liffey, and b) the Avoca River in south Wicklow, which flows out to sea at Arklow.
The Liffey flows west out of the Wicklow Mountains, into the interior then turns north and finally east, skirting the mountains before flowing into the Irish Sea in Dublin.The Avoca flows from the south-eastern orientated Avoca Valley, the site of the 1797 goldrush. This area also has quite a few archaeological remains, and the valley is overlooked by the Motte Stone, which is very similar to many of the white quartz stones found at Newgrange. Significantly, although most studies and searches for the precise rock that was found at Newgrange have occurred near Blessington, in the upper reaches of the Liffey. there is a strong possibility that if there is a lost city here, it lies beneath the huge Poulaphuca Reservoir.
However, most geologists agree that the type of quartz from Newgrange is more likely to be found on the eastern side of the Wicklow Mountains. Therefore, it seems likely that the lost quarries, and any accompanying settlement/city, is still waiting to be found.
One thing is for certain: whoever finds or identifies this site will be granted instantaneous fame.