500 years older than the pyramids of Giza and erected over a millennium before Stonehenge,
Newgrange in The Boyne Valley, Co Meath is as monumental, mysterious and magnificent as you will find.
|Entrance to Newgrange passage (c) fifiheavey|
Nestled amongst the best green pastures and rolling hills of Ireland, Newgrange lay hidden for four centuries. And even now, excavated, unearthed and world recognised it still holds ancient secrets, the biggest one being it's exact purpose.
It is referred to as a passage tomb, but really an Ancient Temple would suit it more. Remains of dead bodies were found inside, but we still do not know if this was in fact a burial chamber. All over the country we have burial chambers of different sizes and patterns, but Newgrange is different. It is bigger, it was better built, it took decades of hard work and it has a special relationship with the sun and the Winter Solstice.
Celtic mythology named Newgrange as the home of the greatest of the Celtic Gods.
Without any definite knowledge or facts, I feel Newgrange was a place of worship, a location chosen for its astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. It is sacred.
|Newgrange ancient burial site (c) fifiheavey|
Embarrassingly, I took my first visit to Newgrange a few weeks ago. I took the trip alone, and am glad I did, as it gave me time and silence to reflect upon this structure of epic proportions. From the impressive Brú na Bóinne visitor centre I took the tour bus to the ancient site. (Which I had passed before when a friend and I got lost going to Slane!)
|Roof Box where the sun enters the tomb|
out gave me the space to take a good look around the circular mound, and grasp the stunning views from the site. The entrance (reconstructed with stone from the site) is spectacular with a 12” triple spiral engraving stone marking the opening.
Of course the most special aspect of Newgrange is the illumination of the passage and centre by the sun on Winter Solstice, December 21. I put my name down for the lottery, to be able to see the Winter Solstice and I invite you all to do the same here.
To the farmers of the New Stone Age, this was an important day, it was their New Year, it marked the end of a most probable bitter Winter and the prospect of brighter days ahead.
Newgrange has been accessible since 1699, when a landowner discovered it when searching for stones, some marked their visit with graffiti which is sad, but to see people dating their visit in the 1700 and 1800s is still pretty special.
I cannot recommend a visit enough, to tourists, to historians, to those with a day spare, or even a few hours.
There is a reason Ireland is renowned for its spiritual beauty, for its ancient wisdom and
mysterious charm – feel it, touch it and see it at Newgrange.