Sí an Bhrú
Irelands history.jpg
Newgrange is located in island of Ireland
Map of Ireland showing the location of Newgrange
LocationCounty Meath, Ireland
Coordinates53°41′39.73″N 6°28′30.11″W / 53°41′39.73″N 6°28′30.11″W / 53.6943694; -6.4750306
Typepassage grave
Width76 metres' diameter (cairn)
Area1.1 acre (0.5 hectare)
Heightup to 12 metres
Foundedc. 3200 BC
Site notes
Excavation dates1962-75
ArchaeologistsMichael J. O'Kelly
OwnershipOffice of Public Works
Public accessyes (guided tour only)
Official nameBrú na Bóinne - Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne
Criteriai, iii, iv
Designated1993 (17th 659

Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú[1] or Brú na Bóinne)[2] is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne.[3] It is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Human bones and possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front, made mostly of white quartz cobblestones, and it is ringed by engraved kerbstones. Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. The mound is also ringed by a stone circle. Some of the material that makes up the monument came from as far away as the Mournes and Wicklow Mountains. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it is believed that it had religious significance. Its entrance is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, when sunlight shines through a 'roofbox' and floods the inner chamber. Several other passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with solstices and equinoxes, and Cairn G at Carrowkeel has a similar 'roofbox'.[4][5] Newgrange also shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe, especially Gavrinis in Brittany, which has both a similar preserved facing and large carved stones, in that case lining the passage within.[6] Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland, with a large high corbelled chamber,[7] and Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales have also been compared to Newgrange.

It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. Newgrange consists of approximately 200,000 tonnes of rock and other materials. It is 85 metres (279 ft) wide at its widest point.[8]

After its initial use, Newgrange was sealed for several millennia. It continued to feature in Irish mythology and folklore, in which it is said to be a dwelling of the deities, particularly The Dagda and his son Aengus. Antiquarians first began its study in the seventeenth century, and archaeological excavations took place at the site in the years that followed. Archaeologist Michael J. O'Kelly led the most extensive of these and also reconstructed the frontage of the site in the 1970s, a reconstruction that is controversial and disputed.[9] Newgrange is a popular tourist site and, according to the archaeologist Colin Renfrew, is "unhesitatingly regarded by the prehistorian as the great national monument of Ireland" and as one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe.[10]

Physical description

Mound and passage tomb

Cross section sketch of the passage

The Newgrange monument primarily consists of a large mound, built of alternating layers of earth and stones, with grass growing on top and a reconstructed facade of flattish white quartz stones studded at intervals with large rounded cobbles covering part of the circumference. The mound is 76 metres (249 ft) across and 12 metres (39 ft) high, and covers 4,500 square metres (1.1 acres) of ground. Within the mound is a chambered passage, which may be accessed by an entrance on the southeastern side of the monument. The passage stretches for 19 metres (60 ft),[11] or about a third of the way into the centre of the structure. At the end of the passage are three small chambers off a larger central chamber with a high corbelled vault roof. Each of the smaller chambers has a large flat "basin stone" where the bones of the dead may have been deposited during prehistoric times. Whether it was a burial site remains unclear. The walls of this passage are made up of large stone slabs, twenty-two of which are on the western side and twenty-one on the eastern side. They average 1½ metres in height;[12] several are decorated with carvings (as well as graffiti from the period after the rediscovery). The ceiling shows no evidence of smoke.

The entrance passage to Newgrange, and the entrance stone

Situated around the perimeter of the mound is a circle of standing stones. Twelve standing-stones survive out of a possible original thirty-five or thereabouts. Most archaeologists suggest that they were added later, during the Bronze Age, centuries after the original monument had been abandoned as a ritual centre.


Megalithic art on one of the kerbstones
The retaining wall and kerbstones

Newgrange contains various examples of graphic Neolithic rock art carved onto its stone surfaces.[13] These carvings fit into ten categories, five of which are curvilinear (circles, spirals, arcs, serpentiniforms, and dot-in-circles) and the other five of which are rectilinear (chevrons, lozenges, radials, parallel lines, and offsets). They are marked by wide differences in style, the skill-level needed to produce them, and on how deeply carved they are.[14] One of the most notable types of art at Newgrange are the triskele-like features found on the entrance stone. It is approximately three metres long and 1.2 metres high (10 ft long and 4 ft high), and about five tonnes in weight. It has been described as "one of the most famous stones in the entire repertory of megalithic art."[15] Archaeologists believe that most of the carvings were produced prior to the stones being erected, although the entrance stone was carved in situ before the kerbstones were placed alongside it.[16]

Various archaeologists have speculated as to the meanings of the designs, with some, such as George Coffey (in the 1890s), believing them to be purely decorative, whilst others, such as Michael J. O'Kelly (who led the 1962–1975 excavation at the site), believed them to have some sort of symbolic purpose, because some of the carvings had been in places that would not have been visible, such as at the bottom of the orthostatic slabs below ground level.[17] Extensive research on how the art relates to alignments and astronomy in the Boyne Valley complex was carried out by American-Irish researcher, Martin Brennan.

Other Languages
العربية: نيوغرانغ
asturianu: Newgrange
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Шы-ан Вру
català: Newgrange
Cebuano: Newgrange
čeština: Newgrange
Cymraeg: Newgrange
dansk: Newgrange
Deutsch: Newgrange
español: Newgrange
Esperanto: Newgrange
euskara: Newgrange
فارسی: نیوگرنج
français: Newgrange
Gaeilge: Sí an Bhrú
galego: Newgrange
한국어: 뉴그레인지
Bahasa Indonesia: Newgrange
lietuvių: Niugrendžas
Nederlands: Newgrange
norsk: Newgrange
polski: Newgrange
português: Newgrange
русский: Ньюгрейндж
Simple English: Newgrange
slovenčina: Newgrange
slovenščina: Newgrange
српски / srpski: Њугрејнџ (Ирска)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Newgrange
svenska: Newgrange
Türkçe: Newgrange
українська: Ньюгрейндж
Tiếng Việt: Newgrange
Winaray: Newgrange