Newgrange Picture

Newgrange (Dún Fhearghusa), one of the passage tombs from the Brú na Bóinne complex in County Meath, Ireland.

On of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. It was built in such a way that at dawn on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, a narrow beam of sunlight for a very short time illuminates the floor of the chamber at the end of the long passageway. Current-day visitors to Newgrange are treated to a re-enactment of this event through the use of a light bulb situated within the tomb. It's over 5000 years old and predates Stonehenge by 1000 years. It was restored in what is thought to be it's original state in the 60's and 70's.

The Newgrange mound is 76m (250ft) across and 12m (40ft) high, and covers an entire acre (0.4ha). Within the mound, a long passage, stretching approximately one third of the length of the mound, leads to a cruciform (cross-shaped) chamber. The passage itself is over 18m (60ft) long. The burial chamber has a corbelled roof which rises steeply upwards to a height of nearly 6m (20 ft). A tribute to its builders, the roof has remained essentially intact and waterproof for over 5,000 years.

According to Irish mythology, Newgrange was one of the sidhe, or fairy-mounds, where the Tuatha Dé Danann lived. It was built by the god Dagda, but his son Oengus later tricked him out of it. It is named for the goddess Boann, the mother of Aengus, who is also credited with the creation of the River Boyne. According to some versions of the story, the hero Cúchulainn was conceived there. However, most of the mythical cycles associated with Newgrange date from the Celtic era of Irish history and mythology. The monument was already in existence for well over 2,000 years before the Celtic era.

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