Built more than 5,000 years ago, this tomb is considered to be pre-historic. That makes this construction older than Stonehenge in England, or the Pyramids in Egypt. Scientists call Newgrange a passage tomb, but only recently have they changed their minds as they have discovered that it is also a temple. Who built this place of worship and remembrance, and where did the people go?
Fun facts about Newgrange
Newgrange is shaped like a kidney bean, with the distance from one end to another being 85 meters. How high is the Newgrange tomb passage? The distance between the floor and roof of the tomb is 13.5 meters high. There are 97 large stones known as kerbstones that hold the roof of Newgrange. The circular roof of Newgrange is estimated to weigh 200,000 tons. That simply means the roof is as heavy as 100,000 large elephants! The entire structure covers over an acre of land. During the Winter Solstice, the sun lines up with the carved windows and openings and lights up the entire chambers within. More than 200,000 visitors visit this incredible tie to the past each year.
Newgrange as a Temple
Though scientists originally thought Newgrange was a type of tomb, much like the pyramids, they now believe that it was used as a temple for worship just the way present churches use cathedrals for worship. It was also used for special ceremonies and there is enough evidence to show that Newgrange was used for burying important people in the Boyne Valley in Ireland.
Decorations inside Newgrange
Stone 52 at the entrance of Newgrange is so well decorated that it is considered among the best art pieces in the whole of Europe. Art carvings are not just found at the entrance of Newgrange but also in the 19 meter-long passage that runs through the building. Newgrange tomb also has two sister tombs close by called Dowth and Knowth. Throughout the country of Ireland, and Europe, there are similar mounds. This is one of the most decorated and largest mounds, however.
What was Newgrange Used For?
It is said that Newgrange passage was used to mark calendar dates. Right above the entrance of Newgrange there is a roof box that lights the dark passages at a specific season of the year. Every year before, during, and after December 21st, (Winter Solstice) a beam of light enters through the roof box and lights the dark passage at dawn. Ancient people of Newgrange who were farmers used this signal to mark the start of a new year. Some few people do not agree that this is the purpose that the roof box served. They say that the purpose of the roof box was to assist the spirits of the dead to ascend to life after death. Regardless of the reason for the openings, in current times there are so many people who want to be there for the Winter Solstice that the park has had to go to a waiting list and a lottery system to make it fair.
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