Newgrange Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice at Newgrange

For over 5,000 years a mystical celestial event has occurred in Ireland. On the winter solstice every year the rising sun penetrates a 60-foot-long passageway inscribed with mysterious carvings and lights up the interior chamber of Newgrange. Is it a tomb? A temple? A calendar? Perhaps we will never know the Neolithic mind-set that built such a complicated monument.

Although described by archaeologists as a passage grave, Newgrange keeps its secrets. Why is the inner chamber lit up for 17 minutes at the solstice – and for several days on either side of that date? What is the meaning of the triple spiral symbol inside the cave-like chamber and the beautiful abstract art inscribed on the stones? Why are we today fascinated by an ancient pile of rocks? Thousands of articles and hundreds of books raise more questions than answers.

Instead go to Newgrange at Brú na Bóinne and see for yourself. Walk where the ancients walked. View prehistoric carvings and Viking graffiti. Marvel at the sparkling wall of white quartz interspersed with granite boulders. Gaze out over the majestic Boyne River Valley. Touch the weathered standing stones. Enter the cramped passageway into the surprisingly large inner chamber with its corbelled roof. Listen to the history and legends of warriors, gods and kings.

More in-depth info:

Watch the Newgrange winter solstice streamed live at 8:30 am Irish time on Dec. 21, 2011: Heritage Ireland & RTE

Mythical Ireland


2011 Solstice Photos

Stone Art Blog


Newgrange by Celtic Woman

Newgrange Entrance © M. Erdvig



















© 2011 Michele Erdvig

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Newgrange Mound © M. Erdvig


Author: Michele Erdvig

Michele has done and seen it all in Ireland. Specializing in Ireland for over 40 years, she is one of the foremost Ireland travel experts in the United States. She writes guidebooks and blogs about Ireland, creates custom Ireland itineraries and dispenses free advice on her Ireland Travel Forum.

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  1. I have been to see Newgrange and while taking the tour inside, they showed us what it looks like during the winter solstice. It was amazing even though it wasn’t the actual event; they were able to give us an idea of what it was like.

    Post a Reply
    • Catherine,

      I agree. It is amazing. Especially that the celestial alignment is still working after 5,000 years. That took some good engineering.

      Post a Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing this, Michele! I watched the video three times today. Newgrange was tops on my list on our trip to Ireland in 2009 but as we did a “U” from Shannon to Dublin in one week, we just couldn’t get there. Next time!

    Post a Reply
    • Karen,

      I hope you get to visit next time. You will need 4 hours to see everything properly.

      Post a Reply
  3. Nice video and great topic to get the word out there. Newgrange is facinating, how people so long ago were able to construct such buidlings with such acuracy is amazing. You have to wait a year to discover its wrong! My favourite part was the graffiti inside the chamber which is now history in itself as it dates from the 1800’s.

    Post a Reply


  1. The Places I Want to See | Postcards & Prose - [...] Newgrange. The burial mounds of ancient Celtic kings, warriors and maybe even gods. Swathed in emerald green, [...]

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