Newgrange: Mystery and History
Ireland is well known for its remnants of past societies. Ancient Celtic crosses, stone ruins, pottery, metalwork, and monuments speak of a people whose rich culture and spirituality blossomed in even the harshest of times. Newgrange, located in the Boyne Valley of Ireland, is a neolithic monument that is a favorite of tourists as well as historians. The Encyclopædia Brittanica Describes the Neolithic Period, also called New Stone Age, as the final stage of cultural evolution or technological development among prehistoric humans. It was characterized by stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, dependence on domesticated plants or animals, settlement in permanent villages, and the appearance of such crafts as pottery and weaving. The Neolithic followed the Paleolithic Period, or age of chipped-stone tools, and preceded the Bronze Age, or early period of metal tools. What is it? Previously considered a passage tomb (tomb with passages leading into a chamber or chambers), Newgrange is now thought to be more of an ancient temple. The passage and chamber is built to align with the sun on the winter solstice, so that the sun shines through and illumines the chamber. Because of this, it is believed that Newgrange had greater astrological and religious significance than originally believed. Who built it? The neolithic people of the Boyne Valley were farmers, raising crops and animals (such as cattle) in their settlements. Their tools were made of stone, wood, antler or bone, as they had not yet developed metal. The carvings done on Newgrange were done without metal tools. What are the symbols? No one is entirely sure what the symbols on Newgrange mean, or their purpose. Some believe that they are decorative, while others think they have a greater significance, because they are on areas of the monument that aren't visible. Newgrange is more than a popular tourist destination, along with the similar mounds nearby at Knowth and Douth, it is a deeply spiritual connection to the past. Visit the Boyne Valley Tours website to get more information on Newgrange and touring the area.