The discovery of a logboat in the Boyne river close to Newgrange dates back 5,000 years, it has been revealed.
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan announced on Friday that scientific dating of the boat found near the Bru na Boinne world heritage site dates to the Neolithic period.
Four local anglers found the prehistoric vessel in June 2016 while fishing on the river at Oldbridge in Co Meath and reported it to heritage authorities.
It measures three metres in length and would have been formed the base of the boat. It is thought it would have originally measured more than four metres in length and have been shaped out of the trunk of an oak tree using stone axes.
A sample of the wood has very recently been radiocarbon dated to between 3,300-2,900BC, which is the period of the construction of the great passage tomb complexes of Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange.
The National Monuments Service underwater archaeology unit and the National Museum of Ireland collaborated in recording the vessel and carefully removing it from the river bed to the museum, where it is currently undergoing conservation.
It is one of 11 logboats that have been found in the river but it is the first to date to the Neolithic period.
Ms Madigan thanked the anglers for reporting their find so quickly.
“This new knowledge adds to the wonderful archaeological discoveries made this summer across Bru na Boinne and enhances our understanding of the people within this special landscape, so dominated by the great River Boyne which would have played such a central part in their lives,” she said.
“The importance of this discovery and the scientific date which has now been obtained for it lies in its contemporaneity with the building of the great passage tomb of Newgrange and the other wonderful passage tombs that dominate our world heritage site of Bru na Boinne.
“It is tempting to ponder the part such a vessel might have played in the construction of these burial monuments and the lives of those who built them, in ferrying people along the river, and transporting materials and stones used to build the great tombs.”