Monolithic, timeless and breath-taking
Brú na Bóinne is one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes. Older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, this Neolithic site is an ensemble of passage graves, standing stones and chamber tombs that were, at the time of construction, the largest manmade objects in existence. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Europe’s great monuments and a must-see destination in Ireland’s tourist economy. However, since originally opening to the public, this complex and convoluted site had run into a number of operational issues and was in need of a refresh.
In 2017, we were appointed to revamp the visitor experience and improve the site in three key areas: logistically, interpretively and experientially.
An insight into an ancient society
Our first task was a resolve a whole host of operational issues. We carried out a detailed study of the site and designed solutions that streamlined the experience. A new entrance and ticketing area better orientates visitors. A consistent design language unifies the entire site and improved signage has simplified wayfinding from the carpark through to the monuments. A new, looped bus route shuttles visitors between the visitor centre and monuments, increasing numbers while spreading occupancy more evenly across the site.
We created an experience that is both magical and mystical. The design brings you face to face with Brú na Bóinne as its creators would have known it – in all weathers, from dawn to dusk, season to season. A prehistoric forest comes alive and leads you into a filmic evocation of daily life 6,000 years ago. A 360-degree, state-of-the-art sound and light experience immerses you in the Neolithic world and gives a flavour of the solstice ceremonies. The soundscapes are almost other-worldly, recorded inside one of the monuments and developed in collaboration with sound artists, using the human body as an instrument.
A curatorial narrative that delves deeper
Our design takes inspiration from the prehistoric monuments themselves. The motif of light occurs throughout. Graphics glow and beams of light penetrate through the galleries, recalling the sunlight that sears through the chambers during the Winter Solstice.
The experience is rooted in an intellectual framework that goes beyond the physical and speculates about civilisation, life and society. Why were the monuments built? What did they mean to the people who built them? How did they live, work and worship here? Developed in collaboration with archaeological experts, interpretation weaves together informed speculation with proven fact to leave visitors with a sense of what life was like in this remarkable civilisation.
National Monuments Service