Newgrange - Ireland's most famous monument

Now on the banks of the Boyne, opposite Rosnaree, there stands a tumulus, said to be the greatest in Europe........ From reason and probability, we would with some certainty conclude that the great tumulus of New Grange was the temple of some Irish god; but that it was so, we know as a fact. - Standish O'Grady, Early Bardic Literature, Ireland, (1879).

Newgrange

Newgrange

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 3200BC, 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.

Newgrange from the air

Newgrange from the air

Newgrange sits on the top of an elongated ridge within a large bend in the Boyne River about five miles west of the town of Drogheda. This area has great eminence thoughout Irish history - legend tells us the foundations of Christianity were laid here. Two miles or so downstream is Oldbridge, where the Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690.

Newgrange was built in a time when there was only stone, not metal, used as an everyday material for tools and weapons. In 1993, Newgrange and its sister sites Knowth and Dowth were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of their outstanding cultural legacy.

The beam of sunlight on the chamber floor

The beam of sunlight on the floor of the chamber at Newgrange

On the Winter Solstice, the light of the rising sun enters the roofbox at Newgrange and penetrates the passage, shining onto the floor of the inner chamber. The sunbeam illuminates the chamber of Newgrange for just 17 minutes.

A survey of the roofbox, passage and chamber of Newgrange by Dr. Jon Patrick in 1972 found that the Winter Solstice orientation of the site was an original feature, and that they were sophisticated constructions, intended to maximise the accuracy and length of the beam entering the chamber.

Newgrange has some stunning examples of megalithic art, including the beautifully carved entrance stone, kerbstone 1, and kerbstone 52. The famous triple spiral is featured on the entrance stone and in the chamber.

Many finds have been made at Newgrange, including some curious items such as a stone phallus and an iron wedge. One type of find which arouses the interest of archaeologists are the Roman coins, many of which were reported to have been found at Newgrange.

Kerbstone 52 detail

Detail from kerbstone 52 at Newgrange. Click for larger view.

The Tuatha Dé Danann, who ruled Ireland in ancient mythology, were said to have erected Newgrange as a burial place for their chief, Dagda Mór, and his three sons. Newgrange was said to have been the place where the great mythical hero Cúchulainn was conceived by his mother Dechtine. His spiritual father, Lugh, visited Dechtine in a dream while she stayed at the Brugh.

Access to Newgrange is through the Brú na Bóinne Visitors' Centre at nearby Donore, just across the river Boyne. In recent times, there have been as many as 200,000 visitors to Newgrange each year, making it the most visited archaeological monument in Ireland.

Mythical Ireland webmaster Anthony Murphy has written a book about Newgrange called 'Newgrange: Monument to Immortality' which examines the archaeology, the cosmology and the spirituality of the monument and its people and reaches interesting conclusions.

A book about Newgrange challenges the classification of the monument as a "passage-grave" or "passage-tomb", and says there was no evidence that Newgrange was used as any sort of dedicated repository for bodies, bones, burial artefacts or ash.

The most comprehensive collection of facts about Newgrange on the internet can be found in our "101 Facts About Newgrange" section.

101 Facts About Newgrange

Newgrange photo gallery
Click here to see exquisite photographs from Newgrange
Click here to see the type of spiriform snail shells found at Newgrange
101 Facts About Newgrange

The most comprehensive collection of information about Newgrange on the internet, 101 Facts About Newgrange is a website within a website!
101 Facts About Newgrange

Astronomy at Newgrange

Solstice light - some pictures of the sun entering the passage of Newgrange at dawn on Winter Solstice, plus spectacular images from inside the chamber!

Kerbstone 52 - beautifully decorated and possibly featuring representations of the Belt stars of Orion.

The Cygnus Enigma - a comprehensive article examining the link between Newgrange and Fourknocks, the Whooper Swan, the constellation Cygnus and the swan mythology of Newgrange.

Art inside Newgrange - see some of the beautiful carvings from inside the chamber, including the mysterious 'ship' plans stone.

Satellite Sites

Site B - a tumulus on the banks of the Boyne, aligned with Newgrange on the Summer Solstice sunset.
Site U - partially destroyed site aligned on the equinox.
Site E - small mound to east of Newgrange.
Site T - a small passage mound located north of Newgrange.
Site S - This is a large mound, unexcavated, located about a mile and a half north of Newgrange at Monknewtown.
Site A - Tumulus southeast of Newgrange, located in line with the Winter Solstice sunrise.
Sites K+L - The oldest monuments on the Newgrange ridge.
Standing Stones - Two impressive standing stones located southeast of Newgrange.

Views of Newgrange

Newgrange video - see inside passage & chamber.
Sunset over Newgrange - a nice view of Brú na Bóinne.
Standing stone silhouette - Solstice sunrise shadows.
Views - Other general views of the Newgrange mound.
Pictures by Clive Ruggles
Entrance to Newgrange - the famous entrance stone.
Newgrange from the air - spectacular aerial images.

Newgrange link to Giza Pyramids
Newgrange and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt are located 36 degrees, or one tenth of the earth's circumference, apart.
Take a tour of Newgrange
If you would like to experience Newgrange and the Boyne Valley as part of a tour, visit our tours section for more information.
Brú na Bóinne: the Visitor Centre
If you would like to visit Newgrange only you need to check out this page, which details opening times, admission rates and other information.