Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb

Newgrange Ireland
Front view of Newgrange with white quartz facade

The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3,200 BC. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 19 metre long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb at Newgrange would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years.

Winter Solstice

New Grange illuminated by the Winter Solstice sun. The passage and chamber inside the Newgrange mound is illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof-box over the entrance and penetrates the 19m (63ft) passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn on the Winter Solstice and a few mornings either side of the Winter Solstice.

Admission to the Newgrange chamber for the Winter Solstice sunrise is by lottery, application forms are available at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. About 30,000 applications are submitted annually. In September each year, 50 names are drawn with 2 places awarded to each person drawn.

Megalithic Mounds

Megalithic mounds such as Newgrange entered Irish mythology as sĂ­dhe or fairy mounds. Newgrange was said to be the home of Oenghus, the god of love. The Passage Tomb at Newgrange was re-discovered in 1699 by the removal of material for road building. A major excavation of Newgrange began in 1962; the original facade of sparkling white quartz was rebuilt using stone found at the site.

World Heritage Site

New Grange - Tri-spiral Megalithic Art Newgrange has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts 200,000 visitors per year. There is no direct access to the Passage Tomb at Newgrange, access is by guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre located close to the village of Donore, Co. Meath. The last tour of Newgrange is 90 minutes before closing time of the Visitor Centre. Groups of 15 or more must book in advance.

Newgrange Images

Newgrange Passage Tomb with 4 of the existing 12 standing stones. Images of Newgrange, 12 standing stones survive of an estimated 35 stones that once surrounding the monument. The large mound is built of alternating layers of earth and stones and is 85m (279ft) across and 13m (43ft) high, and covers 4,500 sq.m (1 acre) of ground.

Newgrange Chamber

New Grange Tri-Spiral Images from inside the chamber at Newgrange including the tri-spiral design on orthostat C10 which is probably the most famous Irish Megalithic symbol. It is often referred to as a Celtic design, but it was carved at least 2500 years before the Celts reached Ireland. At 12 inches in diameter the tri-spiral design is quite small in size, less than one-third the size of the tri-spiral design on the entrance stone.


Gavrinis Megalithic Art The Gavrinis passage tomb in Brittany is remarkable similar to Newgrange. The cairn is about 5500 years old, it is 60 metres in diameter and covers a passage and chamber which is lined with elaborately engraved stones.

In the passage and chamber 23 of the 29 upright stones are engraved with zig-zags, concentric circles, herring bones, axes, bows and arrows.

Newgrange - Further Reading

Boyne Valley Private Day Tour

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