During my researches into ancient cultures for The Timecrack Adventures, one of the places I visited was Newgrange. It’s a Stone Age, Neolithic, monument found in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, in Southern Ireland.
Built over 5,000 years ago in 3,200 B.C. by farming settlers in the Boyne Valley, it’s now designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Known as a passage tomb, it is also appreciated as an ancient temple where religious and astrological practices took place.
The main feature for many visitors is the illumination of the passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. A small opening above the entrance, known as the roof-box, allows sunlight to enter the chamber on the shortest days of the year, around the 21st of December. On the days at dawn, 19th to 23rd December, a narrow beam of light enters through the roof-box to reach the floor and all the way to the rear of the chamber.
The sun rises and widens to a stunning, illuminated vista of the whole of the chamber for approximately 18 minutes. However, although you can visit the monument at any time of the year, the weather may not allow an actual view of the interior of the chamber. If this happens, a visually realistic simulation of the winter solstice can be witnessed during your guided tour.
Having visited Newgrange a couple of times, I can heartily recommend a tour of the site to anyone interested in Ireland’s ancient history, to see a construction that is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.