Newgrange

17 Apr

Newgrange is a megalithic passage tomb in County Meath, Ireland. It was built around 3,200 b.c. and it is believed that the construction would have taken 300 men 20 years to build it. It was build around 600 years before the Pyramids of Giza and 1,000 years before Stonehenge. There have been as many as 200,000 visitors to Newgrange each year, making it the most visited archaeological monument in Ireland. Going in, we had to duck down and fit through a very narrow and low rise passage way to come to the widest part, formed in the shape of a cross. The ceiling in the tomb was circular with layers upon layers of rock, getting more narrow as it went up. The tomb, nearly 5,000 years old was preserved very well and nearly completely dry, due to a very strategically crafted drainage system to bring water from the top of the hill down the sides.

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One of the biggest attractions to Newgrange is for the winter solstice. During the winter solstice, around December 19th-23rd, a bit of sunlight shines through the roof box and lights up it’s passage and chamber for seventeen minutes. During out tour, when we were in the passageway, the guide reenacted the winter solstice sun rise which was so interesting to see.

 

There is a free annual lottery every year for tickets to see this beautiful natural event. Every year people gather in the ancient tomb and wait for 9:00 to come, as people did thousands of years ago. In 2011, over 30,000 applications were submitted. Each year, in September, 50 names with 2 places are awarded access to this magical experience. I put my name in the box, hopefully I’ll get to return back to Dublin next winter!

 

Over the years, chunks of stone have been taken from the tomb and used for paving roads; It wasn’t until 1699 when a landowner ordered his men to collect stone, that they rediscovered the entrance to the tomb.

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Megalithic mounds like Newgrange were called fairy mounds in Irish mythology. Newgrange is believed to be the home of Oenghus, the God of love. The tri-spiral symbol, consisting of six spirals, is one of the most famous Irish Megalithic symbols and found in the inside of the chamber. It is believed to be a Celtic design, however, it was carved at least 2,500 years before the Celts reached Ireland. One of the most beautiful tri-spirals I saw was in the far back (the top of the cross), the spirals seemed to effortlessly intertwine and it was impossible to try to pin point the start of the spirals.

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