Tue, Aug 8: Meath, Ireland
Newgrange Passage Tomb is over 5000 years old, older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids. There are intricate carvings here and Newgrange is precisely aligned with the Winter Solstice sunrise. On that day, sunlight shines down the passage and illuminates the central chamber. The guide performs a somewhat cheesy simulation with a lightbulb on the tour.
Getting to Newgrange
Visiting Newgrange is by paid guided tour only. Best to buy your tickets in advance. A bus takes you first to Knowth for about an hour, then to Newgrange. There is only one mound here; no need to wander around.
What’s that stone facade at Newgrange?
As you approach Newgrange, you’ll see that the front portion of the mound has been completely reinforced with a restored stone facade retaining wall. It’s made from white quartz and dark granite. There is debate on this placement as others think the stones were part of a processional path instead.
My take is that it’s obvious the stone facade has been significantly over-engineered. Just compare the stonework inside, it’s night and day. Then, why wrap half the mound with a stone wall? Seems like it would be just the front doorway. And I don’t think the stonework would be so professionally aligned. Again What’s your take?
Does it make sense to construct a facade with all small stones – you know to hold back all that massive pressure from the earth mound? There must be concrete behind the facade today, or it would be constantly crumbling down. Is this what the original builders did?
What’s with the wooden stairways?
First the small stone retaining wall, and nowhatw very large boulders to form a fence-like perimeter in front of the entrance. No gaps? Did these people really make it that difficult to get to the front door?
Today, they put in wooden stairways. Two of them in fact, so people can get over the boulders. I don’t get it. Is that how people got over the stones in the past? Surely there was some sort of gap or gate way to get through the perimeter.
If there was a retaining wall, what makes more sense? Small stone retaining wall, large stone fence. Or, a large stone retaining wall, and small stone front porch.
What are those spiral carvings at Newgrange?
At Newgrange, you’ll see a recurring pattern of spiral carvings, including the iconic triskele, or triple spiral. What’s the deal with that?
I’m going with the theory that the spiral carvings represent visions from altered states of consciousness induced by psychedelics, like ergot. That’s consistent with spiritual and religious rituals that would likely be practiced at this site.
What’s inside the Newgrange Passage Tomb?
Prior to entering Newgrange, the tour group of 25 is split in half. The tour guide leads one group inside at a time to keep it from getting too crowded. The tour inside takes about 10 minutes.
Let’s get on to the 5 revelations about the inside of the Newgrange Tomb. Here are exclusive, five photos inside Newgrange, and one bonus photo. How does this compare to your expectations?
Newgrange Tour Review
Newgrange is one of Ireland’s more famous prehistoric sites. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and very popular with tourists and historical enthusiasts. Visiting Newgrange is a highly choreographed, with paid tickets, shuttle busses, and time limits.
The site itself combines excessively modern restorations with ancient stone carvings. Once you get past the modern conveniences and construction and finally enter the Newgrange chamber, then you can revel in the beauty of the structure and carvings. Sadly there is a rushed 10 minute time limit with the tour guide talking the entire time.
Overall, considering all the time and effort it takes to actually get to Newgrange, the 10 minute payoff is a huge let down. Yes, you should still go to Newgrange, just don’t expect to be as amazing as it could be. Perhaps they have special private tours that would make it significantly better. Until then consider a calmer visit to Fourknocks Tomb. That’s a far more satisfying experience.
After the end of the tour the shuttle bus takes you back the the bus stop. It’s a fairly long walk across the river to get back to the visitor center.
TIP: If you’re planning on having lunch at the cafe, walk fast to be among the first to get there. You don’t want to be #25 in the lunch line and wait a long time before you can eat.
If you want to visit Newgrange, check the official Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre site for tickets.
What are your thoughts about the Newgrange Passage Tomb? Let us know in the comments below.
Part of the ToursByLocals Ancient Ireland Tour