Newgrange Neolithic Passage Tomb
Newgrange is a passage tomb and ancient temple constructed in the Neolithic period (New Stone Age), around 3,200 B.C, or over 5,000 years ago. This dates the structure as being older than the Great Pyramids in Egypt and older than Stonehenge in England. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its inner chamber is illuminated by the rising sun at the winter solstice via a roof-box opening. This, together with the design and scale of the construction, suggests a well-organised society.
Physically, it consists of a large mound, approximately 76 metres (249 ft) in diameter and 12 metres (39 ft) high. It is made of alternating layers of earth and stones.
A 19 metre (63 ft) long passage leads from an entrance on the south east side to an inner chamber within the mound. This cruciform chamber has a corbelled roof which ensures that any rainwater penetrating the mound runs away from, and does not enter the inner chamber. The smaller chambers have a large, flat "basin" stone on which, it is thought, that the remains of the dead would have been placed.
At dawn on the winter solstice (21st December) and the mornings a day or two either side of that date, the position of the sun on the horizon is such that it aligns with a window or so-called roof-box above the entrance and the light can travel down the shaft and illuminate the inner chamber for several minutes (weather permitting). Access to Newgrange at these special times is via a lottery. At other times of the year, a re-enactment of the winter solstice lighting effect is shown to visitors using an artificial light, so that they can experience an approximation of the real thing. The tour guide turns off the main lights, and the visitors in the inner chamber are momentarily in darkness. The guide then turns on the light simulating the sunrise, and the inner chamber is lit with this beam of light from the roof-box shaft.
The site also contains some examples of Neolithic rock art, carved into the stones for decoration. These consist of circles, spirals, arcs, serpentiniforms, dot-in-circles, chevrons, lozenges, radials and line patterns. Be sure to look at those on the large boulder at the entrance to Newgrange. This is approximately 5 tonnes in weight (hard to miss).
If you are curious about Neolithic/New Stone Age art, architecture, society and technology, this will tick your boxes. Come and visit.
Access to Newgrange is by guided tour only. Tours begin at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (a.k.a. Newgrange Visitor Centre) which is located on the southern side of the river Boyne, about 2km east of Newgrange. So, if you intend to visit Newgrange, first go to the Visitor Centre and you will then be taken by bus to Newgrange with the tour group.
To view the location on a map, click the map pin icon.
The tour duration is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. Allow some time to view the exhibits and information at the Visitor Centre also. In all, allow about 2 hours for your visit.
For further information about opening times and admission prices, click the "More info" button below.