Newgrange, Ireland - The Traveller


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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Newgrange, Ireland

Newgrange, Ireland
Newgrange – Prehistoric Monument 

Newgrange, a prehistoric monument is best known Irish passage tomb in County Meath, Ireland, which dates back to 200 BC.

It is located around one km north of the River Boyne and was built during the Neolithic age thus making it much older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The site comprises of a large circular mount which is approximately 80m in diameter.

The circular stone has a stone passageway with interior chambers and has a retaining wall at the front which is ringed by engraved kerbstones. For what purpose the site was used is not known though it is presumed that it had some religious significance and it is aligned with the sunrise with its light flooding the chamber on the winter solstice.

It is the most famous monument in the Neolithic Bru na Boinne complex together with the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth and is a part of the Bru na Boinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highly decorated Entrance Stone is the most impressive of these stones seen at the site.

Large Kidney Shaped Mount

Newgrange has been classified by archaeologist as a passage tomb though it is now recognized to be more than a passage tomb and ancient temple could be a much more fitting classification, a place of spiritual, astrological, religious and ceremonial importance similar to the present day cathedrals which are places of prestige and worship wherein dignitaries are placed to rest.

It seems like a large kidney shaped mount and the time and labour taken in constructing it indicates a well-organized society having specialized groups who could have been responsible for the various aspects of construction.

Visitors can access Newgrange only through guided tours from the Brun na Boinne Visitor Centre towards the south side of the river Boyne while Newgrange is towards the north area of the river Boyne. Visitors need to cross the river through the pedestrian bridge after which they can take a shuttle bus to Newgrange.

No direct public access by road to Newgrange is available with the exception of mornings around the Winter Solstice and if intending using Satellite Navigation one can head to Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre.

Known for Illumination of its Chambers – Winter Solstice

Newgrange is well known for the illumination of its chamber and passage by the winter solstice sun where above the passage is an opening known as roof-box. This amazing orifice was a great surprise for those who discovered it where its purpose is to permit sunlight to penetrate inside the chamber on the shortest days of the year, towards December 21, the winter solstice.

Towards dawn from 19th to 23rdDecember, one will find a narrow beam of light penetrating the roof-box which reaches the floor of the chamber which gradually extents to the rear of the chamber and as the sun tends to rise higher, the beam begins to widen within the chamber and the whole chamber gets dramatically illuminated.

This entire scenario lasts for seventeen minutes which begins around 9 am. The winter solstice is a great attraction at Newgrange drawing many to witness it, who gather at the ancient tomb to wait for dawn.

Its demand is so great to be inside the chamber during the solstice that there is free annual lottery for the same. However the event depends on the sunshine and if the skies are overcast, not much can be seen at that time though it is worth the wait if the sunlight shows up.

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