As you wait in the darkness of Newgrange passage tomb, on the very spot where people stood some 5,000 years ago, the first rays of the winter solstice sun creep in to illuminate the burial chamber. A feeling of exhilaration leaps the millennia.
Whatever the beliefs of the prehistoric people who created the extraordinary landscape of ritual sites known as Brú na Bóinne, they expressed them ingeniously and on a vast scale: fusing breathtaking feats of engineering, architecture, artistry and astronomy into a complex of monuments – now a World Heritage Site – across the fertile Boyne river valley.
A sunny day at Newgrange
Light shining through passage tomb at Newgrange (image via Tourism Ireland)
Left: A sunny day at Newgrange. Right: Light shining through passage tomb at Newgrange (image via Tourism Ireland).
Suddenly happening upon a view of the Neolithic burial mound of Dowth as you drive country roads, or visiting the astonishing sites of Newgrange and Knowth, you can feel impressed, humbled, mystified, enlightened all at once. Immersed in their silent messages.
Tour the Newgrange site.
Newgrange’s huge round white stone walls, capped by a grassy dome, seem eerily futuristic despite the site’s age.

If you miss the winter solstice sun slipping through the cleverly aligned roof box over the entrance, an electrically powered simulation recreates the moment on a guided tour. Was it thought the sun reinvigorated the spirits of high-status people buried here?
 

Virtual tour courtesy of Voices from the Dawn
Discover the story of Brú na Bóinne

Discover the story of Brú na Bóinne

Discover the story of Brú na Bóinne
At the passage grave at Knowth you discover further striking tunnel alignments, with sunrise and sunset at spring and autumn equinoxes.
Aerial photograph of Knowth
Aerial photograph of Dowth Henge
Left: Aerial photograph of Knowth. Right: Aerial photograph of Dowth Henge
Even more dazzling is the unparalleled amount of prehistoric art carved in the stones – some say the circular and serpentine patterns represent local maps. 
Over the centuries, drawn by Brú na Bóinne’s aura, later people came to add standing stones and subterranean tunnels, and even into medieval times layer upon layer of new meanings were being built. As sure as the sun rises, falls and rises again, we will be coming here to be fascinated.
Timelapse of a starry night at Newgrange

Timelapse of a starry night at Newgrange

Timelapse of a starry night at Newgrange
Share

Visit Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth)

Newgrange, Donore, Meath