Updated: Aug 19
Dive into ancient Irish history with a day trip from Dublin, Ireland to the New Grange Neolithic Site. New Grange is a passage tomb constructed in 3200 BCE by Stone Age Farmers. It predates both Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids. One of the things that makes New Grange Site so interesting is that there are more questions than answers about the site and the people who built it. It is located in the Boyne Valley about an hour northwest of Dublin and is easily accessible by car, train or bus. Another option is to take a Guided Tour to New Grange from Dublin. This one takes you to two other ancients sites as well.
From the exhibits at the Bru na Boinne Visitors Center to the tour of the passage tome at the New Grange Site, you will immerse yourself in the facts, beliefs, and myths that have surrounded the site. At the Bru na Boinne Visitors Center, you are able to purchase tickets for entrance to the Visitor Center Only for 5 euros, entrance to the Visitor Center and the New Grange Site for 18 euros, entrance to the Visitor Center, New Grange Site and Knowth Site, for 24 euros. After touring the visitors center you walk across a small bridge and ride a shuttle bus to the tomb sites. Small groups are taken into the tomb while the others explore the outer areas. It is definitely worth the extra admission fee to go into the tomb. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes for this day trip.
Pictured (above, left) is the entrance to Passage Tomb at the New Grange Site. The stone slab in the foreground was the entrance cover stone. There are many interpretations of the spiral designs on the stone. Some believe it is a map of all the other passage tombs in the area. Others believe it is a representation of of the spiritual journey that humans pass through from birth to afterlife.
Pictured (above, right), the large lower opening is the entrance. You walk about 1/3 of the way into the acre sized dome. The tunnel-like passage is lined with giant stones. At the end of the passage, you enter three chambers. Each chamber contains a large basin stone where the bones were laid. The entire passage chamber area has a corbelled vault roof which makes it water tight. It is an eery feeling to stand in a chamber that was created 5200 years ago. The opening above the entrance is a roofbox. It is positioned precisely. On the winter solstice the passage and the burial chambers are illuminated by the sun at dawn. As part of the tour, all the lights in the tomb are extinguished and through the use of electric lights, the illumination is simulated.
It is astonishing to think these tombs were created by Neolithic farmers. It is believed that it took several decades and probably more than one generation to complete New Grange. Besides New Grange, Knowth and Dowth, there are 35 other known passage tombs in the area. It is believed that the large flat interior stones were brought down the Boyne River from quarry sites up to 70 miles away. The stones were then placed on top of logs and rolled up the hill to the site. I find this incredible to image given their lack of tools.
The entire Passage Tomb Mound is surround by 97 Kerbstones engraved with Bronze Age carvings. This indicates that New Grange was used as a spiritual or ceremonial site for at least 1000 years after its creation. Every little is known about these people. Celtic mythology spins a tale of New Grange as home of the greatest Celtic God Dagda Mor and his son Aongus. As you explore the site, you gain an appreciation of it's history and mysticism.
Have you visited the New Grange Site? Please share your experiences in the comment below so that we can all learn from your experiences. Ready to book your trip to Ireland. Head over to Booking.com for the best deal on hotels.