Newgrange Co. Meath
Newgrange is a stone age (i.e. Neolithic) monument situated in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland. It was built nearly 5,200 years ago in 3,200 B.C. by the stone age farmers being an emblem of prehistoric megalithic art. Archeologists name it as a passage tomb and believe that it took a workforce of 300 men at least 20 years to construct this monument.
Construction of Newgrange Co. Meath
The kidney shaped mound of Newgrange covers somewhat more than one acre area. It is surrounded by 97 large stones known as ‘kerbstones’ of which some are engraved with fine designs that symbolizes the megalithic art. The entrance stone is so eye catching that you could hardly take your eyes off when you first see it. The entrance stone and the Kerbstone 52 are two priceless pieces of sculpture which are considered as the finest treasures of European Neolithic Art. The mound is approximately 83 meters in diameter and 13.5 meters in height. You will find a 19 meter long stone passage and a large central chamber having a corbelled roof as you get inside the mound.
The best feature of Newgrange is the mesmerizing scene of illuminating the passage and the chamber by the Winter Solstice sunrise. The golden ray of the sun enters through the roof box and finally penetrates the passage to light up the whole chamber.
The monument consists of-
1. Megalithic Mound
Newgrange is considered as the home of Oenghus, the God of love. It basically consists of a large mound that is made up of alternating layers of earth, large stones and a reformed façade of sparkling white quartz stones. The quartz stones are inlaid at the intervals with cobbles that cover the overall circumference.
2. Stone Circle
There are some stones that circle around the mound. Archaeologists still don’t know the actual purpose of these stones but these might be used for performing astronomical function. One of the stones from the circle is found directly on top of the Early Bronze Age Pit Circle! Maybe there were more stones on the pit circle before but they broke with the passage of time.
Newgrange contains cairn that covers about 0.5 hectares area. It’s flat-topped, circular in shape, and its net weight is estimated to be 200,000 tons. The cairn is constructed with water-rolled stones that are found by the side of the River Boyne.
4. Basin stones
Each of the 3 chambers within the central chamber contains a large flat ‘basin stone’ which was used to deposit the remains of the dead. Archeologists discovered bones of at least five dead people during an excavation. Most of the bones were burnt down while some were still unburnt.
The large stone passage and the central chamber forms a single tomb inside the mound. The corbelled roof of the chamber was made with several layers of large rocks and finally it was sealed with a capstone which works as a waterproof layer on top of the stacks of rock. The roof is approximately 6 meters above the floor.
Megalithic Art in Newgrange Co. Meath
Newgrange is a living proof of the megalithic art and the fineness of its dexterity. The art is expressed in the form of circles, arcs, radials, lozenges, chevrons or spirals. One of the most authentic tokens of megalithic art is found on the entrance stone that has a motif with a triple spiral effect known as ‘triskele’. Some stones were engraved with distinct designs which might indicate something specific.
Researchers are working dedicatedly to interpret those designs over years and have already discovered a lot by this time. Newgrange is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO & is a place of attraction for 200,000 tourists every year. Winter would be the ideal time for tourists if they want to enjoy the beauty of Newgrange Co. Meath to the fullest.