Newgrange

The next day was Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland. Because of time constraints, I had looked into the places my mom wanted to go to, but never into much extent. So I was usually pleasantly surprised when we arrived to these sites, they were so interesting. Newgrange was the first of these stops.

Newgrange is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance. It is one of the two UNESCO sites in Ireland. Newgrange is also called Brú na Bóinne.  It is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, about a 30 minute drive from Dublin.  It was built during the Neolithic period around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids! The site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by engraved kerbstones. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice.

There is no direct public access to Newgrange by road. Visitor access to Newgrange is only by guided tour from the Visitor Centre on the south side of the river Boyne. Newgrange is on the north side of the river Boyne, visitors cross the river by pedestrian bridge and take a shuttle bus to Newgrange. Tickets are sold at a first come, first serve basis and we were told to arrive early as tours do sell out. We arrived at 10 a.m. and had no problem with getting tickets. Adults are 6 euros and children are 3 euros.

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Aren’t my parents adorable? 🙂 There behind them is the circular mound and within the mound is a chambered passage, which can be accessed by an entrance on the southeastern side of the monument. The passage stretches for 19 metres or about a third of the way into the center of the structure. At the end of the passage are three small chambers off a larger central chamber, with a high corbelled vault roof. Each of the smaller chambers has a large flat “basin stone”, which was where the bones of the dead were possibly originally deposited, although whether it was actually a burial site remains unclear.You can’t take pictures inside but here is one of the entrance.

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Do you see that large stone in front? Newgrange contains various examples of abstract Neolithic rock art carved onto it which provide decoration. These carvings fit into ten categories, five of which are curvilinear (circles, spirals, arcs, serpentiniforms and dot-in-circles) and the other five of which are rectilinear (chevrons, lozenges, radials, parallel lines and offsets). They are also marked by wide differences in style, the skill-level that would have been needed to produce them, and on how deeply carved they are. One of the most notable examples of art at Newgrange is the triskele-like features found on the entrance stone. (See above pic) It is approximately three metres long and 1.2 metres high, and about five tonnes in weight. It has been described as “one of the most famous stones in the entire repertory of megalithic art.  Archaeologists believe that most of the carvings were produced prior to the stones being erected in place, although the entrance stone was instead carved in place before the kerbstones were placed alongside it.

Check out the kerbstones, the Neolithic art, the possible tombs surrounding the mound and the structural slabs in the next few pictures. What was amazing to me was that geological analysis indicates that much of building materials used to construct Newgrange were littoral blocks collected from the rocky beach at Clogherhead, County Louth, approx. 20 km to the north-east. The blocks were possibly transported to the Newgrange site by sea and up the River Boyne by securing them to the underside of boats at low tide. Can you imagine? Remember this began around the year 3200 B.C. I was astounded.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed seeing this place. It is a mysterious and fascinating site! I hope you will one day see it too. Until the next post, CHEERS!

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