Trip to Newgrange

9 Dec

Last weekend, I had an excursion to Newgrange, a prehistoric monument in County Meath. I found it interesting as it was built during the Neolithic period which means that Newgrange is even older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids.

Its appearance essentially looks like a large mound surrounded by a stone wall with grass at the top of the monument. It was a struggle to go inside of Newgrange as the passage was extremely low and narrow. Although the outside of the structure looks quite large, the inside was very small. Our guide informed us that Newgrange was most likely used for religious purposes. Some believe that it was utilized as a place to worship  or remember the dead. In addition, our guide explained to us that once a year, during the winter solstice, the sun shines directly along the passage into the chamber for about 17 minutes and lights the chamber floor, forming a narrow triangle shape in Newgrange.  After the 17 minutes, the inside of the passage becomes pitch black again.

During our tour, we experienced a simulation of what it would be like during the 17 minutes of a winter solstice. It was very interesting as the first phase was pitch black, then when the 17 minutes began a light appeared in the middle of the passage in the form of a narrow triangle slightly getting larger as time passed then slightly getting narrower as the 17 minutes ended. To clarify, we did not stand there in the dark for 17 minutes as it was a “fast-forward” version of the experience. Afterwards, we explored the area around Newgrange. During our walk around the circular monument, I noticed many triple spirals which are common Celtic and pre-Celtic symbols.

This trip was a spur of the moment decision for me as I signed up quite late since I have never heard of Newgrange. However, I am extremely glad I went as l learned much about the significance of this prehistoric monument.

-Claire Jiang

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