Archaeoastronomy: The study of stones and stars


Built between 3200 B.C.E. to 3100 B.C.E, Newgrange is a large, grass-covered mound in northeastern Ireland that covers an intricate system of chambers and passageways. The mound, called a passage tomb, covers over an acre of land, and rises almost 40 feet above the surrounding ground.

Aerial view of the Newgrange mound

The stones both inside and outside of the mound are covered in decorative symbols. There is a large opening that leads into the mound, and above it a square opening or window called a a roof-box.

Entrance door with roof-box above

Every year on the winter solstice (from December 19th to 23rd), light enters through this roof-box and lights up the floor of the mound. As the sun rises, the beam of light widens and eventually lights up the entire chamber. This most likely indicated the beginning of the new year for the Neolithic builders.

Inner Newgrange passageway

All photos on this page used with permission from Micheal Fox,

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