Monday, July 12, 2010

The Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, & Dowth, The Boyne Valley, Ireland

These mounds, thought to be passage tombs, are over 5000 years old, dating to the Stone Age. Built c.3300-2900 BC, according to Carbon-14 dating (Grogan 1991), the Newgrange site is more than 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and predates Stonehenge by about 1,000 years. This is a fascinating place to tour. The site is very strictly controlled, and is not accessible by public roads. You must board a bus at a centralized visitors centre, and are taken from there to the three sites of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth.  
Massive stones engraved with symbols encircle the entire base of the main tombs.
The entrance to the tomb at Newgrange. The woman pictured is a guide/guard who governs the entryway.
On the Winter Solstice the light of the rising sun enters the chamber through this opening called a Roof Box. A narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor, gradually extending to the rear of the passage. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated for a period of about 17 minutes. As the sun climbs into the sky the sunbeam leaves the chamber and retreats back down the passage. 
The entry way into the chamber.  The ceiling is very low and the space is very narrow.  Not great for me because I am claustrophobic. I had to leave the entry way and make a second try at going in. I took a deep breath and made my way in. I'm glad I did because it was extraordinary.
The chamber room is at the end of this passage. Without lighting it is so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. We were not permitted to take photographs in the chamber room.
All Photographs Copyright ©Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman
For more information about the Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth & Dowth visit: Newgrange, Knowth Megalithic Passage Tombs.
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