Saturday, July 30, 2011


I wrote a little in a previous post about my visit to Newgrange.

Some of the designs on the stones are unique, but we're unable to read the meanings of the symbols.

I'm ok with that, there are secrets of the past that will never be revealed.

Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.), making it older than Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Newgrange was built during the Neolithic or New Stone Age by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley. Knowth and Dowth are similar mounds that together with Newgrange have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It has been a highlight of this summer, and I'm still amazed that I had never gone to see it, or known the detail of it, so close to home.
I went with G, my friend, and her Mum. Their home is a 5 minute drive to Newgrange.
As a child, G used to play in the chambers nearby in Knowth. They would bring candles inside, and play around in these 5000 year old structures. Imagine!
We knew little at that time of our wonderful heritage.

So, we went first to the visitor centre, where we had some lovely lunch, and put our names down for the tour. It's busy there and numbers are strictly limited, so you have to get your name down early, or you won't get on a tour.

A big, brave tree. Not as old as the tomb of Newgrange, but very old nonetheless.

There were several of these stones around Newgrange. I'm assuming they were of some significance, and also that they were arranged thus for a reason too.

The guide, at the entrance to the chamber. It's built to capture the morning light at the winter solstice. We put our names down for a draw to win a place in the chamber on December 21st.

The structure is very big on the outside. It took quite a while to walk around it, while the other half of our tour were inside.

Our guide was very knowledgable, from the local area. There were several references to Nama and the recession. Well, may as well get a laugh from our predicament!

Inside the chamber, the guide turned off all the lights, having warned us beforehand that it would be very dark, and using electric light, he showed us how the winter solstice light would appear through the "roof box".

(this photo was taken in a replica in the visitor centre- photography is not allowed in the chamber)

A stillness came over us all, as we watched the pattern of the emerging light with a sense of wonder at how these people were in tune with nature, how they respected their surroundings and the materials available to them, and how carefully they thought about light when building the tomb.

And how, in all the years since it was built, it has never let a drop of rain in.

That is some achievement, given how much it rains in Ireland!

I kept wondering what these wise people would make of the situation we're in now, where housing estates were thrown up in unsuitable locations (eg flood plains), using "any old" materials, with little or no thought of environmental impact ; they're unfinished now and there are no buyers for them.

If we tuned in more often to the wonder of nature around us, and stopped rushing around and being greedy, and built and made things that will last, wouldn't we be much better off?


  1. That was quite interesting. The youngest lovely was here too and she found it interesting as well! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi there! I'm a great fan of Ireland and the Irish (have visited twice!) and loved this post. When over there we didn't go here but saw other interesting Celtic sites. I'm amazed how this one doesn't let the rain in and yes, that is an achievement in Ireland!


  3. It is truly amazing considering how often our roofs need to be fixed and the amount of rain that falls over on both our islands.
    I often feel in awe about all the people who have walked over the same spot over those thousands of years. Makes one feel really humble when you get the big picture of life like that.
    We are tiny dots in the scheme of things.
    We have some old stones over here..... so I'm not surprised that the Celts made sure that there were markers left in Eire too that were even older.
    One day we might get to know what it all really means.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  4. Oh my, Mimi, how astounding. I am so grateful you gave us a tour. I really must see this now. The first photo--it looks like a labyrinth. Was there a walkable one at the site?

  5. You pose a good's unfortunate that there are such mixed blessings in our 'civilization'. I, too, was awed by the feeling of standing where others had stood for thousands of years. And the wonder was just as great even with all the science and history that I have to explain and understand. That 'knowledge' just all dropped away along the dry passage with the rounded walls of huge boulders moving me along to the central chamber. An experience I'll never forget.

  6. Hi Mimi,
    I've been away for a few weeks but it's good to be back. I love your post. I found it fascinating. My Irish roots are smiling. :)