Submitted by Dianne Duffy

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Newgrange and Knowth. I took a bus tour to the site. Newgrange is one of the best examples in Ireland and in Western Europe, of a type of monument known to archaeologists as a passage-grave or passage-tomb. It was constructed around 3200 BC, according to the most reliable Carbon 14 dates available from archaeology. This makes it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years more ancient than Stonehenge.

If you were looking out the left side of the bus approaching the site, you would miss it as it is high upon a hill and covered with grass. The tour guide led us up to the entrance where she explained the history of the site and theories as to the cravings on the stone in the front.

We walked through narrow hallway, that had wood beams holding back the rock walls from collapse, to get inside. We got to the center of the tomb, which was circular. There were three cubby holes with cravings as well. With 24 people in one place, it was very cramped.

The tour explained how five days a year, at the winter solstice, the sunshine moves through capstone at the entrance, engulfing the center room with light. She demonstrated it by turning off the lights and then turning on another light to replicate the event. Being in a dark place with 24 strangers is not something I recommend, but the demonstration was “Illuminating.”

Admission to the Newgrange chamber for the Winter Solstice sunrise is by lottery, application forms are available at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. About 30,000 applications are submitted annually. In September each year, 50 names are drawn with two places are awarded to each person drawn.