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Listed under Archaeological Sites in East Coast Ireland, Ireland.

  • Photo of Newgrange
  • Photo of Newgrange
  • Photo of Newgrange
  • Photo of Newgrange
  • Photo of Newgrange
Photo of Newgrange
Photo by flickr user Kevin Lawver
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The Winter solstice shines along the narrow passage of Newgrange and illuminates the floor of the main chamber, like that moment in Indiana Jones when the sun shines through the stone in his staff revealing the location of the temple. Perfectly designed for the light to flood the chamber from the floor up, for more than 10 minutes, the gap through which light shines is so small an directed that it seems an almost impossible feat of science and engineering that people were able to build something like this around 5000 years ago, 500 years before they built the great pyramids. The way it’s built with its huge curbstones, which piles of quartz were then piled onto at an inward slant, protecting the caves inside with the turf of the mound, is very clever. The mound itself is 250ft across.

That is before anything is said about the design of the rest of the complex or the decoration of it. The swirling masses of tri-spirals are the site's signature designs, looking very Celtic, yet carved thousands of years before the Celts were known to have lived in Ireland. The natural shape of the stones has been taken into account when it comes to the swirls of art and the large stone near the entry to the passage is thought of as one of the best examples of Neolithic stone carving in Europe.

The passage into the centre is about 60 feet long and the internal chamber has three sides – something like a cross.

Built as a tomb, the strange shaped construction was built, part into, a mound, so now it has a grassy roof. Cremated remains would have been interred here, but the detailed way this particular tomb has been built implies it was also used as a centre for other ceremony and celebrations. It would have taken more than 20 years to build Newgrange, assuming around 300 men were employed (from this otherwise farming community), to work on it.

Places at the annual solstice are limited and decided by lottery, but there is a light bulb reconstruction which gives an impressive idea of the real event, actually quite magical. You can’t wander the site at will, but guides escort you through providing information.

Written by  Geoff French.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers


Supposedly the home of Oenghus, the god of love, Newgrange is a 19m long megalithic passage tomb built around 3200BC. The tomb, one of the Bru na Boinne complex, is located under a kidney shaped mound and surrounded by decorated kerbstones.

The passage and chamber of the tomb are designed to be lit up by the winter solstice sunrise, when a shaft of light shines through a specially designed roof box (just like in Indiana Jones)- too carefully positioned to be accidental.

The site is decorated with the spiral art of the megalithic period including the familiar Irish triple spiral pattern.

It is estimated it would have taken a work force of 300, 20 years to construct the tomb.

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