Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is an opening called a roof-box.
Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the passage and chamber at sunrise
around the Winter Solstice. At 8:58am a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box
and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the passage.
As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room
becomes dramatically illuminated. After 17 minutes the sunbeam leaves the chamber
and retreats back down the passage.
All are welcome to gather at Newgrange for the sunrise on the
mornings around the Solstice (December 19th to December 23rd). Access to the
chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by
lottery. The draw for Solstice Sunrise takes place in
September. The successful applicants are notified by mid October.
When Newgrange was built over 5000 years ago, the winter solstice sunbeam would have
made its way to the back recess of the central chamber. Due to changes in the tilt
of the Earth's axis the sunbeam now stops 2 metres from the back recess.
Timelapse footage of the sun entering Newgrange on 24th December 2020
Recorded by John Lalor
photographer for National Monuments Service - Archaeology as part of a research project with OPW.
Winter Solstice Dates
Solstice literally means 'Sun Stands Still', for a few days around the time of the winter solstice the sun appears
to stand still in the sky in that its elevation at noon does not seem to change.
Images from the morning of the 21st December 2006.
Joe & Clare won tickets in
the winter solstice lottery
for December 22nd, they were very fortunate to experience a glorious
sunrise in the chamber at Newgrange.
I am very grateful to Anne-Maria Moroney who was at Newgrange on the 20th of
December 2005 and has made these images
The sun didn't shine on the morning of the 21st
December, the disappointment was eloquently described by Eileen Battersby in the
Irish Times newspaper.
The Winter Solstice sunrise illuminates the passage way leading into the burial
chamber of the megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange on the 21st December
2003. This wonderful photograph by
Alan Betson was printed on the
front page of The Irish Times newspaper
on the 22nd December 2003.
from the Winter Solstice at Newgrange on the 22nd December 2002. A rainbow
heightened the experience of those on the outside, as the fortunate few on
the inside, selected by lottery experienced the illumination of the passage
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours.
Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire.
Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland.