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What is Known as Ireland’s Ancient Wonder?

There are several structures built in ancient times that are still erect today. From the pyramids of Egypt to the underground villages in Asia, their magnificence and grandeur still captivate many people. But did you know there is a structure north of Dublin known to be older than the oldest pyramid in Egypt?

Newgrange, first discovered in 1699, is Ireland’s ancient wonder. The Irish monument predates Stonehenge, and once a year, it becomes illuminated by the rising sun for 18 minutes.

The Megalithic Irish Marvel

Newgrange is about an hour’s drive north of Dublin, in Boyne Valley, County Meath. Irish lawyer Charles Campbell discovered it in 1699. Campbell came across a massive mound of rocks and stones. At first, he thought he could convert it to a quarry, but as Campbell tried clearing it, he uncovered a huge stone that was decorated.

The massive decorated stone was an entrance to a hallway. Campbell and his men cleared the passageway and uncovered the entire monument. Different investigators in medieval times attempted to provide measurements and descriptions of the complex, but it was only that the monument was further understood in modern times. (Source: History)

Newgrange is a 5,200-year-old structure built by Stone Age farmers. It predates the oldest Egyptian pyramid by at least six centuries and the Stonehenge by about 700 years. It is about 279 feet wide and 43 feet high, with a floor area of around 1-acre. The entrance will lead to a 62-foot passage that ends in a chamber with three alcoves.

The exterior of the monument is surrounded by 97 large stones called kerbstones. Some of these massive stones are engraved with megalithic art, with the entrance stone the most detailed. The whole area is a sizeable kidney-shaped mound if seen from above.

Initially classified as a passage tomb, further discoveries made it reclassified as an ancient temple. It was determined that the builders used the site for astrological, spiritual, religious, and ceremonial occasions. Its architecture and design suggest that the society that created it was well-organized, and different workers with various specializations were employed in its inception.

Newgrange is part of a complex of monuments built along the bend of River Boyle known as Brú na Bóinne, and every December 21, the whole passage is illuminated by morning light, giving its viewers a significant light show. (Source: Newgrange)

The Brú na Bóinne Complex

Brú na Bóinne, which means palace or mansion of the Boyne, is dominated by three well-known ancient passage tombs/ancient temples composed of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, along with as many as 90 smaller structures around it.

It was known that the complex was created as passage tombs in the background of farming, domestic households, and markets. The complex expresses the sophisticated knowledge of architecture and engineering of the Stone Age farmers who gave importance to rituals and ceremonies.

The complex was identified as part of The World Heritage List in 1993. Brú na Bóinne was able to fulfill three out of six criteria for cultural heritage with outstanding universal value:

  • Representing a masterpiece of human creative genius,
  • Bearing an exceptional testimony to a culture or tradition which is living or has disappeared,
  • Being an outstanding example of a type of building, architecture, or technological landscape illustrates a significant stage of human history.

(Source: World Heritage Ireland)

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