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Newgrange Cremation Burial Chamber

Tina Negus shares her interpretation of the inside of the world heritage site at Newgrange County Meath. A 5,000-year-old monument to the Irish. Thank You, Tina.

Newgrange

Its breathtaking winter solstice illumination makes Newgrange a passage tomb of global significance. But did you know Ireland’s quintessential wow moment is 5,000 years old?

Newgrange

Yep, 5,000 years. That’s older than Stonehenge. It’s older than the great Egyptian pyramids, too. And five millennia later, it hasn’t lost any of its wonders.

Arriving at the iconic tomb is a wow-moment, to say the least. Standing outside the 80-meter mound, shored up with spiral-engraved kerbstones and topped with white Wicklow quartzite, a guide reveals the myths and history behind the monument. Newgrange could have been designed as a tomb or a temple – in reality, nobody knows which. The truth will be shrouded in mystery forever.

Let there be light…

Once the scene has been set for you as a visitor, you’ll step inside the passage tomb itself, squeezing through standing stones carved with spiraling rock art and graffiti dating back to the 1800s.

This inner sanctum is where a lucky few (chosen by lottery from thousands of applicants annually) huddle together to witness the annual winter solstice illumination. In this moment, when megalithic engineering and nature lock sensationally into sync, a shaft of light can be seen snaking 19 metres up the passageway, ultimately bathing the chamber in light. There are goosebumps, to say the least…

If you’re not one of the lucky ones, don’t fret. All visitors are treated to a simulated solstice, with an orange beam of light artificially showcasing the effect. It’s a tantalising little taster – little wonder legend suggests that this was the site where mythological hero Cú Chulainn was conceived.

Subterranean secrets…

Newgrange isn’t the only passage tomb in Ireland, of course. In fact, it’s not the only passage tomb at Brú na Bóinne. Together with nearby Knowth and Dowth, Newgrange was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1993.

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