Winter Solstice in Ireland ~ Newgrange

Winter Solstice in Ireland ~ Newgrange

The Shortest Day ~ The Darkest Midnight

In Newgrange, County Louth, there is an ancient tomb with stones covered with ancient Celtic artwork. Once a year, at the Winter Solstice, the tomb fills with light and the beautiful spirals are illuminated. Newgrange predates both Stonehenge and the ancient Pyramids of Egypt.

It is a clear signal that the ancient peoples of Ireland understood the movement of the sun at the Winter Solstice and celebrated this Shortest Day; the Darkest Midnight. Here are thirty-three facts about this fascinating monument. Many Celtic jewelry designs are inspired by the spirals at Newgrange. 

Lots of fun factoids here:

  • 1,000 years older than Stonehenge (see Stonehenge slideshow below)
  • Discovered in 1969 by laborers searching for building stones
  • Charles Campbell was the landowner at the time
  • On Campbell's instructions, stones were sought and the entrance discovered
  • The mound is in the shape of a kidney 
  • Constructed around 3200BC (Stone Age)
  • 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt
  • Covers an area of approximately one acre
  • Surrounded by 97 kerb-stones
  • Megalithic art on many of the kerb-stones
  • Arwork includes spirals, lozenges, zigzags, and other symbols
  • These designs are similar to designs found in Brittany (France), at Gavrinis
  • Entrance stone has the most famous designs; triple spiral
  • Long passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof
  • Historians building time estimate (passage tomb): 300 workers 20 years +
  • 200,000 + visitors to Newgrange each year
  • Most visited archaeological monument in Ireland
  • One of the finest European passage-tombs
  • Located in the Boyne Valley in a 3 square mile area
  • Within this 3 mile area, there are 30 prehistoric monuments
  • The stone circle was probably built about 1000 years later (Beaker period).
  • Over the entrance passageway is the 'roof box' (allows the light in)
  • The roof box aligns perfectly with the sunrise on the winter solstice
  • At sunset on the winter solstice, the center of the tomb floods with light
  • The illumination lasts about 20 minutes
  • You can see the spirals for those 20 minutes....
  • The cruciform chamber inside the mound measures 6.5 x 6.2m (21ft 6in x 17ft)
  • The corbelled roof stretches 6m (20ft) above the floor
  • Considered to have have been the burial place of the Kings of Tara
  • Home of King Dagda, leader of the Tuatha De Danann