HEADINGS :- / Newgrange, Bru Na Boinne / Roofbox Aperture / Sun's disk as a Point of Light / A Predictor to the Winter Solstice? / Sites A & B / The Great Circle / Other Internal/External Iconography / Preliminary Findings

IrelandMap   BoyneValley

Acknowledgements


I'd like to take the opportunity here to thank Mrs. Claire O' Kelly who allowed me permission to reproduce some of her excellent drawings and reference some of the technical data from her late husband's book 'Newgrange, Archaeology, Art & legend' (Thames & Hudson, London, 1982)

Newgrange is perhaps the most famous national monument in Ireland situated at a bend in the river Boyne some 3 miles West of Drogheda in Co. Meath and 3 miles East of Slane town. It is part of a grouping of cairns in a fertile flood plain called Bru Na Boinne (Boyne Valley). Newgrange was the first largemound to be excavated and preserved by a team of archaeologists lead by the late Dr. M J O'Kelly.

What's particularly significant about Newgrange is its famous well preservedmegalithic kerbstone artwork, picked and dressed, on granite boulders that skirt the round mound as perimeter delimiters. A number of these worked stones are meticulously and deeply carved with,so far, indecipherable iconography consisting of chevrons, spirals, lozenges, circles and serpentiforms. Its not for the want of people stepping up to give their 'interpretation' of what these symbols really mean. Researchers have been doing this sort of speculation ever since the general public have been permitted to walk on the former sacred site since 1976. In that year Dr O'Kelly finished a lengthy excavation and a controversial quartz stone facing was placed over the front elevation of the massive cairn in order to give an impression of what the monument might have looked like in its former glory days, in Neolithic times. Visitors were allowed to walk into the only internal passageway to gain access to its cruciform chamber and side recesses.

My first visit to Newgrange required me to cycle from Dublin up the Ashbourne Road to Slane. I think it was in 1977, not long after the site was opened to the GP. In those early days, Newgrange had a definite mysterious magnetism to it, perched on its commanding hilltop and overlooking the tiny gift shop at the base of the hill which was surrounded by trees. You were allowed to take your time inside the passageway and you could photograph to your hearts content. Most of the visitors then were European and the atmosphere was truly relaxed and convivial with impromptu talks and walks around the mound. (Today however as word spreads around the globe the influx of foreign visitors has swelled to a whopping 140,000 - 150,000 per year).

And if you were a really keen megalithic hunter then you may have had the opportunity of se