My husband and I had a trip booked to Ireland in June 2020. Due to Covid, the trip never happened. For a myriad of reasons, it’s a trip that likely won’t happen any time soon. I’ve pulled up my old itinerary, and I’m going to explore as much of this holiday as virtually as I can! Please visit my BLOG page for previous entries.
DAY 13: NEWGRANGE
We saved the best for last! A visit to Newgrange was the main reason (at least for me) why I wanted to go to Ireland! I tried booking a place on Mary Gibbon’s Tour earlier in the trip, but there was no space available until our very last day in Ireland. Whew! At least we secured a spot!
- Newgrange is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.) which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Its initial period of use lasted about 1,000 years.
- The monument is aligned on the winter solstice sunrise. Winter Solstice = the shortest day and longest night of the year for those who live in the northern half of the globe. At dawn on the mornings surrounding the solstice, a narrow beam of light enters the 62-foot long passage and lights the floor. It moves along the ground, from the window box until it lights the rear chamber. This Neolithic light show lasts 17 minutes.
- Newgrange was built by Stone Age (Neolithic) farmers as a large circular mound 85m (279ft) in diameter and 13m (43ft) high with a 19m (63ft) stone passageway and chambers inside.
- Archaeologists classified Newgrange as a passage tomb, however Newgrange is now recognized to be much more than a passage tomb. Ancient Temple is a more fitting classification, a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, much as present day cathedrals are places of prestige and worship where dignitaries may be laid to rest.
- Newgrange is surrounded by 97 large stones called kerbstones some of which are engraved with megalithic art; the most striking is the entrance stone.
More info can be found here.
There have been various debates as to its original purpose. Many archaeologists believed that the monument had religious significance of some sort or another, either as a place of worship for a “cult of the dead” or for an astronomically based faith. O’Kelly believed that the monument had to be seen in relation to the nearby Knowth and Dowth, and that the building of Newgrange “cannot be regarded as other than the expression of some kind of powerful force or motivation, brought to the extremes of aggrandizement in these three monuments, the cathedrals of the megalithic religion. wikipedia.
ABOUT MARY GIBBON NEWGRANGE TOUR
Her guided tours visit Newgrange Passage Tomb of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site of Brú na Bóinne and we also visit the Hill of Tara, the ancient capital of Ireland. With our tour, visitors can skip the line and are guaranteed access to the Newgrange monument and Knowth monument. Along with entering the monument passage and chamber, visitors also explore and discover the world-famous collection of decorated kerbstones that surround the passage tomb. These stones display some of Europe’s best-preserved examples of Neolithic art.
ABOUT BRÚ NA BÓINNE
- Brú na Bóinne, which means the ‘palace’ or the ‘mansion’ of the Boyne, refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes.
- The archaeological landscape within Brú na Bóinne is dominated by the three well-known large passage tombs, Knowth, Newgrange, and Dowth.
The Brú na Bóinne tombs, in particular Knowth, contain the largest assemblage of megalithic art in Western Europe.
Winter Solstice at Newgrange
If you want to fall into a rabbit hole, might I suggest you fall here.