Updated: Jun 18, 2021
This spectacular site was found by the landowner Charles Campbell in 1699. Taking on a ninety-nine-year lease after the Battle of Boyne, Campbell began quarrying stones from the land to build roads when his workman uncovered the large decorated entrance stone. The mound heavily overgrown at the time their find came as a huge surprise.
Newgrange is one of the oldest solar observatories in the world and the most famous monument in Ireland. A large mound was built by Stone Age farmers during the Neolithic period around 3200bc, 600 years before the pyramids, and 1,000 years before Stonehenge. Located at the Bru na Boinne complex in County Meath, the site consists of a large circular mound 85m (279ft) in diameter and 13m (43ft) high (an area consisting of one acre), with an inner stone passageway and chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front mostly made from white quartz cobblestone (although some debate remains regarding the white stone being removed from inside and placed outside when reconstructed) Bru was another name for Newgrange, which was an old Irish word for womb. Newgrange mound was known to represent the womb. The light from the winter solstice entering the passage and representing the seed that would fertilise the womb. You may be able to notice its womb and female reproductive organs resemblance while viewing Newgrange from above.
Newgrange is part of a complex of monuments built inland from the mouth of the River Boyne. Two more important monuments align to Newgrange, those being Knowth and Dowth, all three located close to each other in the Boyle Valley. Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth are all in alignment with astronomy. Newgrange aligning with the winter solstice. Knowth has two passages aligning directly to East and West, illuminating to the equinox sunsets and sunrises, and Dowth also has two passages with one directly aligning to Newgrange. Due to the sheer accuracy of aligning these three monuments, the ancient Irish would have had to obtain extraordinary knowledge of mathematics, construction, and astronomy. The large stones placed around the outside of the Newgrange mound also align with Knowth and Dowth; it is believed the stones were most likely positioned before the mounds.
The ancient Irish were masters of astronomy, understanding the cycles of the sun and moon for agriculture, with knowledge of the stars essential for sailing and navigation. Irish astronomers also regarded the Milkyway as a heavenly reflection of the River Boyne.
Newgrange was a tomb where the entrance aligns with the rising sun on the winter solstice, allowing sunlight to penetrate the chambers on the shortest days of the year. The winter solstice held each year on 21st December in the Northern Hemisphere is when the sun stands still in the sky for three days before it rises again on December 25th, the resurrection of the sun would be cause for huge celebrations. Sounding similar to Christmas, the ancient Irish were the first to celebrate on the 25th of December, marking the rebirth of the unconquerable sun. The sun played a huge role in ancient civilizations, representing the bestower of light, life, and wisdom, with some believing it was the shining face of God.
Surrounded by ninety-seven large stones called kerbstones, many of the kerbstones are engraved with megalithic artwork, the most striking being the stone at the mound entrance. It is believed the kerbstones would have weighed an extraordinary two hundred thousand tons. Historically proven, the builders of this magnificent site transported the huge five to ten-ton boulders to the site by boat thirty kilometers away. The boulders are a scarce rock called greywacke only found in Ireland, Clogerhead, County Louth. The builders took great care to ensure the monument remained dry, packing sand from the river and putty made from burnt soil into joints of the roofs stones, cutting groves into the slabs to channel the water away from the structure, which has remained dry to this day.
As you enter the mound, you walk through a nineteen-meter-long passage lined with standing stones engraved with neolithic artwork. It is believed the passage was built in two distinct phases. The inner section leading to the chamber being the original structure, and the outer section with the roof box structure being a later addition. As you walk towards the end of the passage, you enter the large chamber, measuring 6 meters in height, width, and length, and construct a cross shape formed by eleven large stone slabs with three recesses.
Basins that are on the floor of each of the three recesses held the remains of the dead. The remains of at least five people were recovered during excavation. However, originally much more bone may have been placed there, leading researchers to believe it may have been a gateway for the dead to return home. Located on the left recess is a design of a fern leaf carved into the edge, representing the herb of immortality, a powerful plant known to bestow eternal life. This same pattern was located in ancient Mesopotamia too.
Newgrange is believed to be many things, including the sacred temple of the Hyperboreans from Greek mythology, which was described as a magnificent circular temple located on a fertile island with swans, priests with harps, and an unusually temperate climate. There are many fascinating tales regarding Newgrange and its surrounding monuments that I will leave you to look into. If you love astronomy, a good one to start with would be the cross design of the constellation Cygnus, matching up with the passage and chambers of Newgrange, or are its alignments with stars, certain ley lines, and other spiritual sites around the world a pure coincidence? My personal favorite has to be Newgrange being a fairy dwelling. 💚
With more enchanting tales of gods, goddesses', folklore, and swans linked to Bru na Boinne and many more beautiful and supernatural tales related to Ireland in general, it really is no surprise Ireland is known as the magical Tir na nOg, the land of eternal youth.
Below I have left two short videos by Anthony Murphy explaining a little more.
Sending Love & Light