I vaguely recall our class being loaded onto a bus and driven for HOURS to see a large rock and a dark tunnel. Ireland’s greatest ancient monument was not a huge draw to a nine-year-old. Rather, the highlight of the school tour was the large, sugar-laden packed lunch that came with it.
These days, it takes just an hour to get to Newgrange from Dublin. The M1 motorway leads you to the heart of the Boyne Valley, where Ireland’s kings ruled from the Hill of Tara. Later, in 1690, the forces of King James VII of Scotland battled those of King William III of England there in the bloody Battle of the Boyne.
The ancient temple of Newgrange precedes all this, however. It was built by farmers around 5,200 years ago, making it older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza. Spanning about an acre, the mound is ringed by 97 richly decorated kerbstones. The most beautiful is the intricately engraved entrance stone. The Triple Spiral is one of the most recognised of the ancient Celtic symbols.
Brú na Bóinne
Newgrange is a place of spiritual and ceremonial significance to the Irish. It is part of an ancient palace complex on the banks of the River Boyne, known as Brú na Bóinne. It first belonged to Elcmar, who was married to Boann (the river Boyne). The Dagda (Ireland’s good god) sent Elcmar away on business, then had a son, Aengus, with Boann. Aengus, the Irish god of youth, love and poetry, lived then there with the gods of the Tuatha Dé Danann – a supernatural people who roamed Ireland before the Celts arrived, then retreated underground.
Newgrange houses a 19-metre passageway leading to a burial chamber with three alcoves.
Remarkably, the chamber aligns with the rising sun of the winter solstice. From 19 to 23 December each year, the midwinter sun streams into the passageway, illuminating the chamber beyond.
Visitors can enter an annual lottery to view this 17-minute event in person, albeit from a safe distance. Mercifully, Newgrange is now well protected from the sticky paws of nine-year-old sugar fiends!
Interested in visiting this World Heritage Site? Find more details at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre.
Newgrange Spirals at Totally Irish Gifts
At Totally Irish Gifts we stock a number of gifts inspired by the spirals of Newgrange.
Our silver Newgrange Brooch echoes the triple spiral of the Newgrange entrance stone. The spirals represent the journey of life, the flow of love, and the energy of birth and rebirth.
What’s more, this gorgeous Celtic brooch is ideal for securing our handcrafted scarves and shawls, making it the perfect gift for any occasion.
Prices correct at time of blog. Prices may change or go on sale at different times during the year.