Newgrange in summary

  • Newgrange is located in the Boyne Valley on the east coast of Ireland – Directions.
  • Newgrange was built over 5000 years ago, approximately 3200BC, by a Neolithic (Stone Age) farming community.
  • Newgrange is a man made mound 85 metres (93 yards) in diameter and 13.5 metres (15 yards) high.
  • The main feature of Newgrange is a 19 metre (21 yard) passage which leads to a chamber with 3 alcoves, the passage and chamber form a cross shape.
  • The passage and chamber are aligned with the rising sun at the Winter Solstice.
  • Access to the chamber on the mornings around the winter solstice is by lottery.
  • The 30cm (12″) Triple Spiral engraving in the chamber is the most recognizable symbol of Ancient Ireland.
  • The base of the mound is surrounded by 97 large stone called kerbstones.
  • Some of the kerbstones are engraved with megalithic art; the most striking is the entrance stone K1.
  • 12 standing stones from the remains of a circle that may have had 37 stones are still in existence.
  • Access to Newgrange is via the Visitors Centre on the south bank of the river Boyne.
  • The name Newgrange is relatively modern; it literally means New Grange. In the 12th century the area became part of the Mellifont Abbey farm. Outlying farms were known as granges, hence the name New Grange.
  • Brú na Bóinne is the original Irish name, meaning ‘mansion by the Boyne’. Visitor access to Newgrange today is via the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre.
  • The Celts didn’t build Newgrange; it was built about 2500 years before the first Celt set foot in Ireland.
  • Newgrange entered Celtic Mythology as a fairy mound. Newgrange was the home of the god Dagda, his wife Boann and their son Aonghus the god of love.
  • Two other mounds of similar size were built in the Boyne Valley – Knowth and Dowth.
  • The entrance to Newgrange was re-discovered in 1699. The landowner at the time was removing stones for road building when the entrance was revealed.
  • The Winter Solstice Phenomenon was re-discovered by Professor Michael J. O’Kelly in 1967.
  • Judging from the splendour and magnificence of the Newgrange monument it was most likely a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, much as present day cathedrals are places of worship where dignitaries may be laid to rest.
  • There is little evidence that Newgrange was used as a burial tomb. Chris O’Callaghan in his book “Newgrange temple of Life” develops this theme.
  • The roof of the inner chamber is of corbelled construction, it hasn’t leaked in 5000 years.
  • The reconstructed white quartz front wall is sometimes criticized as being overly modern in appearance.
  • There are a number of smaller mounds in the vicinity of the main mound.
  • Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The official UNESCO listing is “Brú na Bóinne – Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne”.
  • Over 200,000 people visit the Newgrange Visitor Centre every year.