Saturday, October 20

Brú Na Bóinne: Newgrange

This is probably going to be my last Ireland post. I think it's overdue, don't you? ;-)

While Knowth is the most impressive Brú Na Bóinne site in terms of amount of archaeological data, Newgrange is the most impressive recreation of what the megalithic tombs of Ireland might have been like. There is, of course, controversy about the restoration. Be that as it may, Newgrange is very impressive.

Newgrange is the oldest surviving building in the world and was built in such a way that at dawn on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, a narrow beam of sunlight for a very short time illuminates the floor of the chamber at the end of the long passageway...

Originally built between c.3300-2900 BC according to Carbon-14 dates it is more than 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and predates Stonehenge trilithons by about 1,000 years...

The Newgrange mound is 250 feet across and 40 feet high, and covers an entire acre. Within the mound, a long passage, stretching approximately one third of the length of the mound, leads to a cruciform (cross-shaped) chamber. The passage itself is over 60 feet (18m) long. The burial chamber has a corbelled roof which rises steeply upwards to a height of nearly 20 feet (6m). A tribute to its builders, the roof has remained essentially intact and waterproof for over 5,000 years...
The entrance to Newgrange features "one of the most famous stones in the entire repertory of megalithic art":

(Click the image to see a much larger picture.)

Our guide ran down some of the theories about what, if anything this art signifies. My favorite was the three mounds (left) with the river running beneath them.

Notice also, in the picture above, the roofbox that the light shines through on the Winter Solstice to illuminate the inner chamber.
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