Newgrange is a famous megalithic tomb or passage grave in County Meath, Ireland. Opinions differ as to its age – some say 3200 BC, other 5000 BC. Either way, it’s older than Stonehenge by a 1000 years, and predates the pyramids in Egypt.
This is the entrance to Newgrange. Those large rocks are called kerbstones, and they are decorated by carvings in the stones. Below is a close-up of a figure called a “triskelion”, composed of three interlocking spirals.
Below is a photo of one of several stone bowls inside Newgrange, probably used to hold the bones of the departed. In my first book, Ciara’s Tale, my character Ciara hides inside a tomb at the Loughcrew mountain complex, and she crouches down into a bowl like this one.
The interior of Newgrange is cruciform in shape, the main passage leading off to three side passages, one of which is shown below.
But Newgrange wasn’t used only for religious and funeral purposes. It also marked the winter solstice. In ancient times, people awaited the return of the sun and the longer days of summer with great anticipation. Winter was hard and cold, and many people didn’t survive until the spring.
Each year the winter solstice takes place around December 19th to the 23rd. On those days, a beam of light from the rising sun at dawn would enter the roof box over the main lintel at the entrance to the tomb and travel down the dark corridor.
It would pierce through the darkness and light up the back wall of the central chamber for 17 minutes. The people would know then that the they had reached the middle of winter and the shortest day of the year. Spring would come again.
In our modern age today it is hard to fathom what it must have been like for these ancient people. No calendars or clocks, just endless dark cold winter days. How amazing it must have been to stand inside this dark place and watch the sunbeam move down the dark corridor.<
If you are interested in seeing a video clip recreation of an ancient solstice, you can go to