Newgrange Passage Tomb

Newgrange Travel Blog

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River Boyne as seen from the Newgrange passage tomb.
Can you tell me ~ what is all the fuss about?  A passage tomb sounds like some place to bury the dead.  Big deal.   Oh, but it's so much more than that.  This particular passage tomb, located in the Boyne Valley in County Meath, is situated on a high knoll that overlooks the River Boyne.  Carbon dating puts its construction around 3,000 B.C.   It predates the Egyptian pyramids by at least 500 years and ancient Stonehedge by 1,000 years or more.    Okay.  It's really, really old, but what else makes this particular tomb one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world?   Because this sophisticated structure incorporates the unique phenomenon of a roof-box which, only at dawn on the day of the winter solstice, allows the rays of the rising sun to penetrate the chamber and flood it with light.
Entrance to the Newgrange passage tomb. The window above the door lets the rising sun on the dawn of the winter solstice shine into the tomb.
  The passageway is 60 foot long and leads to a cross-shaped burial chamber.  The ceiling in the chamber is 20 foot high and the roof above is still intact and waterproof after 5,000 years.

Do you actually think this very unusual occurrence could happen by chance?  Absolutely not!  These farmers/engineers/astrologers didn't have the advantage of a college education, but they built this sophisticated structure without the aid of anything more than their primitive tools and the sweat of their brow.  The mound covering the tomb is constructed of 200,000 tons of earth and water-rolled pebbles, probably taken from the River Boyne.   The mound, which is 250 feet across and covers an entire acre, is retained by 97 massive curb-stones lying end to end and topped with white granite and quartz boulders.
Our bus driver waiting for his next load of passengers.
   Most of the stones are from the surrounding area, but the quartz and granite are not native to the Boyne Valley and had to come from Wicklow or Dundalk.  The journey to gather these stones would have taken days or weeks, maybe months,  and how did they transport them back to their valley?  

This prehistoric tomb was found quite by accident when farmers were gathering the unusual quartz stones and thought they had discovered a cave.  After 5,000 years, the sides of the tomb had collapsed outward and the stones had been scattered over several acres.   What visitors see today when they tour the area is actually a controversial restoration; no one really knows where the white stones were originally placed.  In other tomb restorations in the area, the same white stones were found but they were used to form an "apron" on the ground at the entrance of the tomb.

The only way to see these brilliantly restored tombs is to take a $$$$ guided tour.   This is actually a huge tourist attraction here in Ireland (kinda like Disneyland in Orlando?) and I am very glad that we were visiting before the rush of the summer season.  Whew!  We paid our fare, got our tickets, and waited until time for our tour bus to take us out to the tomb area.  Des had been here several times before and wasn't interested in the tour; he killed time in the cafeteria and walking around the grounds.  Such a nice guy.   Leigh Ann is intrigued by people more than she is in a pile of old rocks.  That is why I have no pictures.  Except of our bus driver, who had a strange resemblance to my father-in-law (he died in 1991).  Leigh thought the likeness to her grandfather was a little bit unsettling and wanted to snap his picture.  Shaw is definitely Irish .....   hmmmmm .......    I wonder???

Our next stop ~~ Trim Castle ~~ made famous in the movie Braveheart.
travelgeek9 says:
I just uoloaded my pics from when I visted Newgrange in 2006. Saw your post and really like the write up. I'm a bit of a history and science kind of person so I really enjoyed seeing this place. I never knew it existed till I was in Ireland for work and someone suggested I go there. Some History buff I am. :-)
Very nice blog.
Posted on: Apr 11, 2008
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River Boyne as seen from the Newgr…
River Boyne as seen from the Newg…
Entrance to the Newgrange passage …
Entrance to the Newgrange passage…
Our bus driver waiting for his nex…
Our bus driver waiting for his ne…
photo by: hanleyscot