Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 7: Boyne Valley; New Grange (5,000 years old!)

Tom and Rob - and it was sunny out!
The New Grange Mound
On Thursday, May 7th, we had a private driving tour north of Dublin. The driver and host was Kieran Cathcart of
 http://www.tourdublin.ie. He is AMAZING. He took us to historic places that went back before the pyramids, some 5,000 years ago. Kieran was fun, personable, a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and history. It was like spending the day with an old friend and we had a good share of laughs, too.
  The first stop we went to was about 30 miles north of Dublin in a place called the Boyne Valley
Quartz wall outside the New Grange Mound

WHAT IS THE BOYNE VALLEY? - According to Tour Dublin, The Boyne Valley was home to some of the earliest settlements in Ireland due to its fertile land and access to the sea. The Boyne Valley includes old Newgrange passage tomb, the Hill of Tara, Oldbridge, Drogheda, and many more things. This blog will explore New Grange and we'll get to some of the others in the next blogs!
As a result there are some fantastic historical and archaeological sites of interest to be seen on your private tour of Newgrange. Some of the finest examples of early Megalithic passage tombs in Europe are to be found here. The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3,200 BC.

WHAT DOES NEWGRANGE MEAN?  - The name "Newgrange" or New Grange, is relatively modern. The area around Newgrange was once part of the lands owned and farmed by the monks of Mellifont Abbey, and would have been known as a "grange".


The rebuilt entrance for visitors
 THE ANCIENT NEWGRANGE SITE - Newgrange (c 3,200 B.C.) is the best-known monument of the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, predating the ancient pyramids by 400 years and Stonehenge by 1,000.   The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones.


A look across the Boyne Valley
Tom behind the mound at hieroglyphics
The 19 meter (62 foot) long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise (Dec. 21) 
 WHAT HAPPENS?  - A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn from the 19th to the 23rd of December.
 
ENTRANCE AT NEWGRANGE -
At the entrance to Newgrange stands a highly-decorated stone.The carvings on the stone include a triple spiral motif which is found only at Newgrange and is repeated along the passage and again inside the chamber.It is unknown what the meaning of these carvings are. Newgrange is one of three passage tombs in The Boyne Valley, the others being Knowth and Dowth. In 1962, restoration work on the tomb began under the supervision of Professor Michael J O'Kelly. The structure was taken apart piece by piece and then reconstructed. This work continued until 1975. Newgrange has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts 200,000 visitors per year.
INSIDE THE PASSAGEWAY - Photos were not allowed inside, so we're using a photo of the inside from http://www.tourdublin.ie.
   It was a very low entrance into the mound and the walls were tight. It is not for people who are claustrophobic.
Once you get inside there are three small chambers -one at the back of the mound and one on either side. All three of them have small hieroglyphic markings, like those that Tom is standing next to in this photo - taken BEHIND and outside the mound.
(Newgrange contains various examples of abstract Neolithic rock art carved onto it which provide decoration) 

Inside the mound- Credit: TourDublin.ie

HOW DID THEY BUILD IT?

Example of how massive stones were moved to build the mound
According to the info that we read, the people 5,000 years ago actually moved these massive several ton stones on the river and constructed ways to bring them to the top of a mountain to build this mound. Just thinking about the ingenuity is amazing.
Huts built by people of 5,000 years ago
   The blocks were possibly transported to the Newgrange site by sea and up the River Boyne by securing them to the underside of boats at low tide.

  
HOW WAS NEWGRANGE RE-DISCOVERED? -Newgrange was "rediscovered" in 1699. The landowner at the time, Charles Campbell, needed some stones and had instructed his labourers to carry some away from the cairn. It was at this time the entrance to the tomb was discovered.

NEXT: Monasterboice: one of Ireland's best-known and oldest religious sites

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next