Newgrange interior, County Meath, Ireland
The exterior is a large circular mound with a stone passageway to the interior chambers. There is a retaining wall at the front that is ringed by 97 engraved kerbstones. The interior can only be visited as part of a guided tour. Newgrange is particularly noted for the way the winter solstice sun illuminates the interior chamber at sunrise through a roofbox above the passage entrance. There has been speculation that this site has some ancient religious significance as it is aligned with the rising sun. Newgrange is the most famous monument in this region but there are two other similar tomb mounds, Knowth and Dowth that form this UNESCO World Heritage site. It shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe.
After the original users left Newgrange it was sealed for hundreds of years although it was remembered in Irish mythology and folklore. Archeological excavations took place from the 17th century beginning with a farmer who ordered a stone removed from the mound that uncovered the entrance. Michael J. O’Kelly is responsible for the most extensive recent efforts. He reconstructed the front of the site in 1970. His book, “Newgrange: Archaeology, Art and Legend” was published in 1982 by Thames and Hudson and is about the work undertaken between 1962 and 1975. Today Newgrange is a popular tourist destination and is regarded as a great national monument in Ireland.
The mound is built of alternating layers of earth and stones with grass growing on top. There are flat white quartz stones together with large rounded cobbles studding the mound at intervals. The interior passage is 60 feet (19 meters) long and goes about one third of the way into the mound. There is one large central chamber and three smaller chambers that branch off from it. These smaller chambers are thought to possibly be burial sites.
There is carved rock art in the form of circles, spirals, arcs, chevrons, radials, parallel lines etc. for a total of ten different design shapes. Archaeologists believe the carvings were made prior to the stones being put in place. The people who lived here grew crops and raised animals. Their tools would have been made of stone, wood, and bone.
Coins, pendants, and rings dating from Roman times have been found in the mound indicating that there was interest in Newcastle for many years.
Now I am curious what this mound, the mounds in Marietta, Ohio and the one we saw in Evje, Norway have in common.
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