by wjw on August 8, 2019

IMG_4268Here is Newgrange, a 5200-year-old tumulus constructed during the New Stone Age.  It is younger than Carnac, just a little older than the oldest bits of Stonehenge, and much older than the Pyramids. The huge megaliths that make up most of the structure, and which corbel 20 meters upward in the burial chamber, were brought up the river Boyne from 20km away.  The white quartz facing was brought from 50km away, and if there were sunlight— here it is raining heavily— it would just blaze.

Only the cremated remains of five bodies were found in the three burial chambers, so either the family died out, or something else interrupted the process.  (Other tumuli have dozens of human remains.)

There’s a special slot above the doorway for the sun to enter on the winter solstice, and to illuminate a sort of “altar” in the burial chamber.

Newgrange isn’t even the largest tumulus in the neighborhood— there’s a bigger one a few miles away.  All have solar alignments, though this is the only one pointing at the winter solstice.

I find the Neolithic quite magical, and I love the tumuli and the monoliths and the stone circles and the barrows and causeway camps.  If nothing else, they’re an amazing testimonial to human ingenuity.

By the way, I asked our guide a question.  “If Newgrange is 5200 years old, how old is Oldgrange?”  But he didn’t have an answer.

Dwaz August 8, 2019 at 6:27 pm

Oh, he had an answer but was too polite to speak it.

Thomas Van Horne August 8, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I _think_ the monumental structures were declarations “THIS IS OUR LAND” and accompanied the first transitions from hunter-gatherer to settled agriculture. You see the exact same behavior in the land that is currently the United States several thousand years later in the Adena and Hopewell complexes that first accompanied widespread trading networks of early settled agriculture.

Mike Christie August 11, 2019 at 11:32 am

We were there ~13 years ago, We went in under low, cloudy, skies and and came out to find it snowing heavily. It’s so well sealed and enclosed that we had no idea.

I don’t know if you’ll get all the way to the SW tip, but Port Magee, and more especially Bray Head, were also quite magical.

But then that word, ‘magical’, describes so much or Ireland.

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