Location: 8 km (5 mi) East of Slane, County Meath Map

Train: to Drogheda

Bru na Boinne Interpretive Center
Tel. 041- 988 0300

Open: daily

Closed: Dec 24- 27


Newgrange is a massive megalithic structure situated 8 km (5 mi) East of Slane, County Meath in Ireland. Archeological studies date the structure to the Neolithic period to 3200 BC.


The height of the mound is 13.5 meters, the diameter is 85 meters. A 19-meter-long corridor leads into the burial chamber, the base of which is vertically placed stone monoliths weighing from 20 to 40 tons. The device of the burial chamber resembles Stonehenge, only here the stone ring is covered from above with a mound of earth and gravel. Inside the burial chamber, a large bowl of ritual purpose has been preserved, and niches decorated with stone carvings are punched in the walls.

Above the burial chamber is a stepped vault. The monoliths that form it are arranged in such a way that the heaviest stones are at the bottom and their weight at the top decreases. The dome inside is hollow and forms a 6-meter-high hexagonal shaft tapering upwards.

During excavations, it was found that on the outer surface of the overlap there were grooves for water flow and cup-shaped signs, still hidden in bulk. The embankment itself consisted of layers of stones and peat, it was surrounded by a supporting wall-kerb of ornamented plates. On either side of the entrance, green Kerb stones are topped with a white quartz wall.

The entrance to the tomb was marked by a circle of stones from 1.5 to 2.5 m high. Another circle of 97 vertically standing stones surrounded the tomb itself around the perimeter. All these stones, as well as the walls of the corridor and the burial chamber, are covered with an ornament consisting of zigzag lines, triangles, concentric circles, but the most common image is a triple spiral. This symbol was widespread in Neolithic art and, as researchers suggest, was associated with the cycle of death and rebirth (in particular, similar symbols are carved on carved stone balls - characteristic artifacts of the same era). Most images of the spiral are located at the entrance to the tomb, as if marking the boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living. Also among the motifs of the images are cup-shaped signs and concentric rings.

The tunnel is oriented to the southeast, exactly at the place of sunrise on the day of the winter solstice. There is a hole above the entrance - a window of 20 cm wide, through which the sun's rays can penetrate to the inner chamber. For several days (from December 19 to December 23), the rays of the rising sun penetrate through it into the inner room and brightly illuminate it for about 17 minutes (from 14 to 21 minutes).

Newgrange entered Celtic mythology as a fairy barrow. It was the home of the god Dagda, his wife Boanne and their son Engus, the god of love. The locals believed that every year on the night of November 1, which the Celts considered to be “without time” at night, when one year ends and gives way to another, the fairies go outside.



Newgrange was discovered in 1699 by workers who needed crushed stone to build a road. At first, scientists suggested that the mysterious buildings belong to the Celtic era. 18th-century English explorer Charles Wallancy defines Newgrange as the "Cave of the Sun."

Full-scale studies of the complex were not begun until 1962 by an archaeological expedition led by Professor Michael J. O’Kelly. In 1993, UNESCO assigned the Boyne River Archaeological Ensemble the status of an international historical monument. In the List of World Heritage Sites, Newgrange is described as the largest and most important of the megalithic structures of Europe.

After restoration work, Newgrange was open to visitors. Only the winners of the special lottery can observe the penetration of sunlight into the inner room at dawn on the day of the winter solstice. For example, in 2005, out of 27,000 people, 50 people were selected (10 visitors a day). On other days, sightseers are shown the reconstruction of the phenomenon using spotlights. The maximum group size for visiting is 24 people, which is due to the size of the interior.

Dog from newgrange
In 2016, a study of the complete genome of a dog from the vicinity of Newgrange, who lived 4.8 thousand years ago, showed that East Asian dogs descended from their wild counterparts several millennia after the first domestication. After that, they were most likely transported to Europe, where they partially replaced the dogs domesticated there during the Paleolithic. The time of division into treasures of East Asia and Western Eurasia is older than the age of the dog from Newgrange, that is, more than 4800 years ago. Scientists have discovered the best fossil DNA samples in the bones of a dog from Newgrange - their quality is not lower than that of modern samples. A dog from Newgrange was identified mitochondrial haplogroup C.