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Newgrange to livestream solstice sunrise

The neolithic tomb is closed to visitors this winter solstice.

Image: John Lalor - Senior Photographer NMS/Rollingnews.ie

THE WINTER SOLSTICE sunrise at Newgrange will be livestreamed from the tomb’s chamber this year in place of an event for visitors.

Newgrange, a passage tomb from the Neolithic era, usually hosts guests in the chamber each winter solstice for a coveted view of the sunrise aligning with the roof box into the passage.

The tomb, which is around 5,200 years old, is closed to visitors this winter due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead, the sunrise will be livestreamed on the morning of 21 December, with more details to be released in the coming weeks.

With the chamber closed to visitors, the Office of Public Works and the National Monuments Service are undertaking research into the way the sunlight enters the passage tomb during the solstice.

The project will measure and monitor the movement of sunlight coming through the roof box on either side of the winter solstice to determine how the beam of light at dawn “interplays” with the chamber approaching the solstice and after it.

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan said that “for operational reasons, the office of Public Works has, regrettably, made the decision not to host the usual Winter Solstice event at Newgrange this year”.

“I realise that this will come as a disappointment but at all times, the OPW has to be mindful of Government guidelines in relation to Covid-19 and the health and safety of our visitors is paramount,” O’Donovan said.

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“However, the absence of visitors from the chamber has presented us with a golden opportunity to carry out research with our colleagues from the National Monuments Service which would not have been possible in any other year,” he said.

A number of new discoveries were made around Newgrange last year, including dozens of previously unknown monuments and possible Neolithic log boats in the river bed of the Boyne.

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