The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3,200 BC. The kidney shaped
mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of
which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 19 metre long inner passage
leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. It is estimated that the
construction of the Passage Tomb at Newgrange would have taken a work force of 300
at least 20 years.
The passage and chamber inside the Newgrange mound is illuminated by the
winter solstice sunrise.
A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof-box over the
entrance and penetrates the 19m (63ft) passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn
on the Winter Solstice and a few mornings either side of the Winter Solstice.
Admission to the Newgrange chamber for the Winter Solstice sunrise is by
lottery, application forms are available at the Brú na Bóinne
Visitor Centre. About 30,000 applications are submitted annually.
In September each year, 50 names are drawn with 2 places awarded to each person drawn.
Megalithic mounds such as Newgrange entered Irish mythology as sídhe or
fairy mounds. Newgrange was said to be the home of Oenghus, the god of
love. The Passage Tomb at Newgrange was re-discovered in 1699 by
the removal of material for road building. A major
excavation of Newgrange began in 1962; the original facade of sparkling
white quartz was rebuilt using stone found at the site.
World Heritage Site
Newgrange has been designated a World Heritage Site by
attracts 200,000 visitors per year. There is no direct access to the Passage Tomb at
Newgrange, access is by guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor
Centre located close to the village of Donore, Co. Meath. The last tour of
Newgrange is 90 minutes before closing time of the Visitor Centre. Groups of 15 or more must book in advance.
Images of Newgrange, 12 standing stones survive of an estimated 35 stones that once surrounding the monument. The large mound is built of alternating layers of earth and stones and is 85m (279ft) across and 13m (43ft) high, and covers 4,500 sq.m (1 acre) of ground.
from inside the chamber at Newgrange including the tri-spiral design on orthostat C10
which is probably the most famous Irish Megalithic symbol. It is
often referred to as a Celtic design, but it was carved at least 2500 years before
the Celts reached Ireland. At 12 inches in
diameter the tri-spiral design is quite small in size, less than one-third the size
of the tri-spiral design on the entrance stone.
The Gavrinis passage tomb
in Brittany is remarkable similar to Newgrange. The cairn is about
5500 years old, it is 60 metres in diameter and covers a
passage and chamber which is lined with elaborately engraved stones.
In the passage and chamber 23 of the 29 upright stones are
engraved with zig-zags, concentric circles, herring bones, axes, bows and arrows.
Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour:
Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice,
Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick let a Paschal fire in 433