First what is a passage tomb? Well a passage tomb is exactly what it sounds like, it consists of a passage leading to a tomb chamber. Newgrange has three tomb chambers with a stone passage leading to the main chamber. The people that built this passage tomb started in 3300 BC and completed around 2900 BC. To put this in context: the first people to arrive in Ireland came around 8000 BC, the great pyramids of Giza were built in 2500 BC, and Rome was created in 750 BC.
The photo pictured below is the entrance to the passage. This group of people lived an average of 30 years and stood at about 5 ft 5 in (so make sure and duck when you go in!!) The large decorated rock in front of the entrance is fittingly called the entrance stone, it is estimated to weigh over 5 tons!!
The small rectangular opening above the door is the "Sun door". This is where the sun enters to illuminate the burial chamber during the winter solstice. To be able to calculate the "local dawn" and to have the chamber in perfect alignment with the sun door and the sun is extremely sophisticated ( so be careful when referring to the Stone Age man as simplistic). The tour guide showed us a demonstration of exactly how this works, and the best way to describe it is by thinking about Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Indiana is in the Map room to locate where the Ark is buried. The only difference is that Newgrange only lights up five days out of the year and for roughly 17 minutes each day.
|Another small tomb building|
|Drawings on the side hedge stones|
|The stones to the right of the photo are 6 feet tall so this gives you an appreciation of how large this structure is.|
If a structure took this amount of time to construct today do you think it would be completed?