The Celts claimed that the legendary kings of Tara were buried here, but Newgrange was built around 3200 BC on a bend north of the river Boyne. Invaders left the grave untouched until it was rediscovered in AD 1699. It was built by clever people without the use of wheels to move the massive stones or metal tools to aid in carving them. Loose stones were transported to build the cairn, a huge mound meant to protect the passage tomb.
When the site was excavated in the 1960s, it was discovered that the rays of the sun would enter the tomb and light up the burial chamber on the winter solstice, December 21st. Newgrange predates Stonehenge by over 1000 years, making it the world’s oldest solar calendar. Large slabs were placed in a circle around the mound, there were probably 35 stones; only 12 survive. Zigzags, spirals and swirls were etched into the kerbstones and those lining the interior passage.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
I first heard of Newgrange while listening to a podcast downloaded from the internet. We stumbled upon Rick Steves, a travel writer and radio talk show host from Seattle, and have started listening to his advice about places we plan to visit. It’s a great complement to our Lonely Planet guidebooks, though the major places are stressed in both references. I am so glad that we heeded his advice and started our tour of Ireland, outside of Dublin, with one of the most amazing, and in fact oldest treasures on the island.
Visits to the site are by guided tour only, but these are put together when tourists arrive at the visitor center so we didn’t have to plan ahead. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and well-spoken. He made the site come alive for us and we left feeling we had been to a very spiritual place indeed.