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copyright 2001 Kathryn Gerhardt

Newgrange is one of three sacred mounds located about 30 minutes outside of Dublin (the other two Knowth and Dowth). It is 5,000 years old, making it older than Stonehenge and the pyramids. The Irish government likes to say the mounds are burial mounds, but most of the locals believe they were temples.

All three of the mounds have passageways that open up into a main chamber. Newgrange has three smaller chambers that open up off the main chamber, in a cross-like formation. All three mounds were built astronomically to align with the sunrise and/or sunset on the solstices and equinoxes.

Newgrange was built for the sunrise on the Winter Solstice. The mound has a roof box over the entryway. On the Solstice, when the sun rises, it shines into the box, lights up the passageway, illuminates the chamber and originally hit the triple spiral carved into one of the smaller chambers. The chamber is only illuminated on the Winter Solstice. This was how the people of the time knew the sun was returning.

Newgrange Front Stone
copyright 1999 Kathryn Gerhardt

Inside the Newgrange Chamber
copyright Department of Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht

Newgrange also figures into several Irish myths such as Diarmuid and Grainne, Midir and Etain. It was the home of the Dagda (the good god) who was tricked out of it by his son Oengus (Celtic god of love). Oengus was always helping out lovers in trouble in the myths.