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Newgrange; Ireland’s ancient Passage Tomb

Newgrange 2013-001 intro

Newgrange is the oldest structure I've ever visited.  It was built over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.) during the Neolithic era, before even Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza.  It’s obvious that Newgrange was crafted by an advanced society which lived in Ireland’s Boyne River Valley (now less than an hour’s drive north of Dublin), but little is know about the people who built it except that they were farmers.


Newgrange 2013-010

 (entrance to the passage tomb at Newgrange)


Newgrange is a carefully designed passage tomb and probably an ancient Temple.  The structure covers an acre and has a dome-shaped roof with 97 curbstones along its base, many of which are highly decorated with neolithic art.  White and dark granite frame its front face.  Newgrange has a single 19 meter long inner passage which leads to a cruciform chamber.  Above the entrance to the passage there’s a opening called a “roof-box” which allows dawn’s light to penetrate the chamber on the morning of the winter solstice.


Newgrange 2013-017 Entrance to the tomb

Newgrange 2013-024 Circular design at the entrance to the tomb

 (details of entrance to Newgrange passage tomb, including triple-swirled neolithic art at the stone in front of the entrance)


So at dawn on December 21st, if the day is clear (far from a certainty in Ireland) a narrow beam of sunlight light penetrates the roof-box and gradually reaches the floor of the inner chamber filling it with daylight for about 17 minutes.  This careful design indicates the solstice light was highly symbolic and likely of religious importance as cremated remains of the ancestors were placed here, probably to begin their journey to a new life on that day.


Newgrange 2013-105 visitor center Copy of New Grange's passageway

 (copy of the Newgrange passage tomb in the Visitor's center; this is the far end of the passage where the cremated remains were placed)


Newgrange is part of a complex of monuments (totaling about 3 dozen) built along a bend of the River Boyne known collectively as Brú na BÓinne.  You can only access Newgrange (and enter the tomb and its inner chamber) by guided tour from the Brú na BÓinne Visitor Centre.  It’s a very recommended destination, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Newgrange 2013-098 Viewed from Knowth

(Newgrange, viewed at a distance from Knowth tomb site, situated in the lovely Valley of the Boyne)


Images (10)
  • Side profile of Newgrange, an ancient passage tomb: Located in the Valley of the Boyne, north of Dublin
  • Entry to the passage tomb of Newgrange: Note the use of different colored rocks
  • Entry to the passage tomb of Newgrange: Notice the window above the door, which allows sunrise light in during the winter solstice
  • Triple swirl design at the entrance to the tomb is of unknown significance
  • Newgrange's facade combines white and black quartz in a fairly symmetric pattern
  • Boyne Valley viewed from Newgrange
  • Newgrange and the lovely Valley of the Boyne.  Viewed from Knowth.
  • Newgrange.  Copy of Newgrange's passageway in the visitor center
  • Newgrange.  Copy of Newgrange's passageway in the visitor center
  • Newgrange.  Boyne River by visitor center

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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It's interesting how we perceive age. In the U.S., we have few buildings over 200 years old, while in other places buildings older than that are part of the housing stock. And here we have a building of intricate design and decoration old enough that we hardly know any of the history of its builders.


A reminder to us how much there is to see and know that is beyond our daily lives. Thank you for the tour!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

TravelandNature. You'd be surprised at how many people have been saved by that Church.

"Regulars" from hundreds of years ago still attend services and Funerals.

Next door to this Church is a Pub and folks come out to catch the last Bus at Mid-night.

They often see 8 Nuns in white carrying a coffin through the main doors.

Which are still closed - of course!

Walking the "Walls" that enclose the City - maybe 3 miles around - is a local ritual !

At frequent intervals there are Pubs to stop at.

The idea being that you stop at each one , have a drink and proceed to the next.

Its only the hardened drinkers who complete the circuit.

A friend from Anna Maria Island, Florida sent his daughter to stay with us for a while.

Same age as my daughter and they got along like a house on fire !

So when we arrived in Chester I told her our day was walking around the 2000 year old Walls !!

Her reply : "We did History in School - it sucks !"..... "Cant we just drive"


Last edited by DrFumblefinger

On my first visit to Anna Maria I was amazed that the Pelicans would sit next to you on the pier by Allemande Villas. Like a pet dog.

They would try and steal your bait as you were fishing. But like a good dog they responded to a "Hey you!" and sat watching you.

When I caught my first fish I pulled and fought with the monster!

As I lifted my prize from the water my new Pelican friend flexed his wings.

He glided off the Pier and with great precision removed my catch from the hook!

He passed me by several minutes later and I swear his call was a muted laugh.

I'd been mugged in full daylight.

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