The human history of the land, on which the Phoenix Park now sits, dates back almost 5,500 years, to the first Neolithic inhabitants of Ireland. The high ground, that makes up the southern part of the park, became a key defensive and spiritual place for these people.
In 1838, workmen for the Commissioners of Woods and Forests discovered a burial mound in this location. Evidence shows that the mound was used during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. The “Knockmary” burial cist, gets its name from the Irish words “Cnoc-Maraidhe”, which means “The Hill of the Mariners.”
At one time, the mound measured 3m high and 40m wide, and consisted of a central cist surrounded by five upright stones, supporting a large capstone. An archaeological dig has uncovered three male skeletons buried within the grave. In addition, a shell necklace, a bone toggle and a flint blade were also found.
Today the burial cist is the only part that remains of the structure. It is believed that the stone came from the River Liffey, which runs through the centre of Dublin.