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Newgrange Facts

Newgrange is ancient Ireland's best known site.

It is part of the Brú na Bóinne complex of Neolithic (late Stone Age) passage tombs on the river Boyne near Kells and Navan, along with the tombs at Knowth and Dowth.

Entrance into ancient Ireland's Newgrange tomb in County Meath, Ireland.

Facts:

  • Of all three Boyne Valley (Bru Na Boinne) sites, this is the most accessible to visitors and we feel is one of ancient Ireland’s precious heritage sites that you should make sure not to miss when on a tour of the country. The neolithic monuments are some of our favourite places to visit. They are a remarkable piece of prehistoric Irelands' history.
  • This tomb has been dated to 3,200 BC. It was built by a Neolithic farming community 1,000 years before the pyramid of Giza. What an achievement.
  • The tomb was excavated between 1962 and 1975.
  • The passage grave was constructed to demonstrate this Neolithic cultures’ knowledge of astronomy. Light enters the passage at sunrise on Winter Solstice revealing the builders had an understanding of planetary movements.
  • This spectacular event is so popular with visitors that tickets are given out in a lottery system.
  • Brú na Bóinne is a UNESCO protected World Heritage site
  • There are 97 kerb stones at the bottom of the mound, and 12 standing stones surrounding the mound, which are a later addition.
  • The tomb is 11m high and the mound measures 76m across
  • A lot of the building material was transported from a beach in County Louth 15 miles away. This tells us that this society must have had quite advanced technology. They possibly transported the rocks by boat on the river Boyne.
Newgrange

200,000 visitors venture there every year. Access is only permitted with a guided tour, and visitors are not allowed to take photos.

Susanna had special permission a few years ago to take pictures inside the tomb at Newgrange, and we will be showing you some of them on these pages about the neolithic monuments to give you an idea of the atmosphere and the feelings to expect when entering this ancient monument.

Kerb stone around the perimeter of the tomb at Newgrange, Ireland.
  • The heaviest rock found at Brú na Bóinne weighed 10 tons. Professor Michael J. O’Kelly who led the excavation of Newgrange conducted an experiment just to see what effort would have been involved in the construction. He had three men use ropes and ramps to drag a 1 ton block of rock. It took them 12 hours to move the rock by 4 metres.

Read More About Neolithic Ireland

Read the complete story about Newgrange here.

Read about neolithic Ireland here part one and here part two.

Find tourist information here on visiting the Bru Na Boinne complex which includes Newgrange.

Read here about two other neolithic sites, Carrowmore and Carrowkeel both in County Sligo.

The Journey Into The Tomb

The narrow passage into ancient Ireland's Newgrange tomb in County Meath, Ireland.

This is the very narrow passage at the tomb, close to the entrance. Visitors have to pass through here in order to get to the cruciform chambers inside. It is very narrow in here!

Note the grooves in the wall on the left. They were made deliberately- probably ground with harder rock. Today we are left to wonder what their meaning or function may have been.

The Most Special Day At Newgrange- Winter Solstice

On the 21st December every year, winter solstice, the early morning sun rays will pass through a roof box which you can see on the photo at the top of this page above the entrance, and will then penetrate the inner chamber 19 metres inside the tomb for only a short while, a mere 17 minutes.

A 1972 study found that the original design was for the sunlight to reach the back chamber 24 metres inside. However, the Earth axis had moved slightly in the last 5,000 years which is preventing that from happening nowadays.

Read here about the function of the roof box above the entrance.Visitors are not normally allowed to take photos inside the tomb. However, we struck lucky. Susanna got special permission a few years ago and is bringing you exclusive pictures on these pages to give you a sense of how special the place is.

Neolithic art on the ceiling of ancient Ireland's Newgrange tomb in County Meath, Ireland.

Here you can see some of the massive uprights that support the ceiling inside the tomb. They have to hold up the weight of  the entire mound.

See the wall art at the back on the white background? In the past, there was probably more of it. It looks like a part of the surface might have lifted off the rock. It must have deteriorated over time.

If you enjoyed this article on prehistoric Ireland's prime heritage site, and if you like what we do on Enjoy Irish Culture, please support us in growing our audience by using any of the sets of social buttons on this site, which are located both top left and at the very bottom of the page.

Much appreciated!

Warmest regards, Colm and Susanna

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