Passage Tomb Liminality

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The architecture of Passage tombs reiterates the ritual stage of liminality in the articulation of entrances and the arrangement of motifs, features and space. The most illustrative examples of passage tombs are those at the Bend of the Boyne, Ireland. It is Knowth, Dowth and New grange tombs, which communicate liminality most clearly. Firstly, the entrances to these tombs emphasizes the threshold or liminality of the space, between the land of the living and the land of the dead (ancestors). Looking specifically at Knowth tomb; the entry is exaggerated by a forecourt with by paving composed of foreign or ‘unusual’ stones such as quartz and water-rolled granite . This is accompanied by an entrance stone. A megalithic stone is place so that …show more content…
For instance, within Knowth Tomb (also Newgrange), the passage is ornamented with more engraved patterns and motifs on specific Orthostats (or walls) to create a layering of thresholds moving through the passage. In some examples of Passage tombs, there is a distinct bend in the passage or a restricting stone to indicate the thresholds. The entrance to the burial chamber is also defined; being an important ritual threshold into the land of the ancestors, where past bleeds into present. These architectural moments along the length of the passage define the ritual/mundane threshold. Moving from the outside world to the sacred chamber, the passage becomes a liminal space, articulated by the arrangement and quality of spaces. The occupant moves from a bright outdoor space, through a dark constricting tunnel, exceedingly narrow and long . This constricting effect, I argue communicates the transitionary nature of the passage. One is transformed in the isolated silent darkness. . The release, then, from a claustrophobic space into a large open chamber is symbolic. This creates a sense of journey and the threshold. It communicates the idea that one is entering the domain of the ancestors, the past and leaving behind the living and the light. The chamber facilitates mortuary rituals, for the departed moving into the world of ancestors; a rite of passage that is embodied by the architecture of the passage

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