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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Winter Solstice

'Remarkable archaeological discoveries' made near Newgrange passage tomb

A report sheds new light on discoveries made this summer.

????????????????????????????????? Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht A GIS-generated terrain model of the Newgrange flood plain at Brú na Bóinne showing the principal archaeological sites from the 2018 aerial survey. Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

TO MARK TODAY’S winter solstice further details of the archaeological discoveries made this year within the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, close to Newgrange passage tomb in Co Meath, have been released. 

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said the new information “reinforces the remarkable level of ceremonial and ritual use of the landscape around Newgrange during the prehistoric period”.

In an interim report released today, the National Monuments Service has revealed the results of its analysis of aerial reconnaissance it carried out following the initial discoveries in July – which received global attention at the time. 

Immense enclosures of timber uprights and large ceremonial henges have been identified on the floodplain in the shadow of Newgrange passage tomb.

These monuments “clearly form a deliberately structured and ritual landscape of great significance”, a department spokesperson said. 

3 Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Two large prehistoric henges depicted as cropmarks last July. Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

During the very dry summer, details of stunning archaeological monuments became visible for the first time as crop marks in the parched fields of the River Boyne floodplain.

The detail of these ancient monuments was unprecedented, offering a rarely seen insight into prehistoric ritual and architecture.

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said: “These remarkable archaeological discoveries are a significant reinforcement of the Unesco World Heritage inscription and will transform our understanding of Brú na Bóinne…

These discoveries will inspire much interest and will attract further research and interpretation. My department looks forward to working with the landowners and academic institutes and researchers in the years ahead on ensuring the secrets these sites still hold are revealed.

Every year on this date, 21 December (the shortest day of the year), a beam of sunlight shines directly through a light box above the main door in the Newgrange passage tomb and casts a beam of light up the main corridor of the neolithic monument.

This feature of the 5,000-year-old neolithic monument was first discovered during reconstruction work in the 1970s.

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