This morning, we deliberately altered our tour schedule to include a visit to the famous Neolithic site at Newgrange, about 1 hour from Dublin. This proved a wise choice as weather was very favourable and the summer crowds had dissipated.

We arrived at Newgrange about10.00am and joined a small group of the site which is one of the finest examples in W. Europe of what is officially described a type of passage-grave tomb although there is no firm evidence the monument was used as a tomb or for burial purposes. The site was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s at which the date of erection was determined as about 3200BC.

Newgrange is situated on the highest point of a long, low ridge about 1km north of the River Boyne and about 14km from the river’s mouth at Drogheda.

River Boyne at Newgrange

River Boyne at Newgrange, Ireland

Newgrange is by no means isolated. Together with nearby Knowth and Dowth, Newgrange forms part of what was clearly a site  revered by the Neolithic people in the Boyne Valley and which extends to some 35-40 “tombs”.

The bright sunshine and blue skies helped to set-off the monument on the horizon, aided by the quartz facing which had been placed on the face of the walls in a 1960s makeover to re-create the monument as it may have looked some 5000 years ago. 

Quartz Facing, Newgrange

Quartz Facing, Newgrange, Ireland

 Our small group was able to visit the very small interior area which is accessed via  a narrow passage which leads to a main chamber which opens into three side-chambers. Newgrange is particularly famous for the alignment with the winter solstice which allows the suns rays for a few minutes each December 21st to light up the interior via a so-called ‘roof box’ above the entrance passage.

Roof Box at Newgrange

Roof Box at Newgrange, Ireland

The site also features rock art in the form of swirls, chevrons and concentric circles and a great circle of standing stones (partly complete) which surrounds the mound from a distance of between 7 and 17 metres. Rock Art images:

Rock Art, Newgrange

Rock Art, Newgrange, Ireland

Rock art at Newgrange

Rock art at Newgrange, Ireland

Rock Art at Newgrange

Rock Art at Newgrange, Ireland

Rock Art at Newgrange

Rock Art at Newgrange, Ireland

After a tour of the site exterior we returned to the Visitor Centre to watch the audio-visual and visit the shop.

After completing the Newgrange visit we returned to Dublin around midday to join the regular hop-on-hop-off tour bus covering the key sites around Dublin. Our prime objectives was Trinity College and the Book of Kells plus Dublin Castle. I will cover this tour in more detail in tomorrow’s blog.