Newgrange was one of the things on our 3 day road trip in Ireland and Northern Ireland that we did not know much about. Our tour operator had chosen to put this attraction on our itinerary based on our wish to see historical attractions in beautiful surroundings. And as it turns out, our wish definitely came true.
Our tour of Newgrange
We were picked up at our B&B in Slane in the morning, and then taken to Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. It is here you buy your ticket to the burial mound(s) you would like to visit. We chose to “only” see Newgrange, but it is possible to buy a combination ticket, so you can see more than just this one. If you choose to do that, it is a great idea to allow plenty of time for the visit.
The burial mound itself is not located right next to the visitor centre. When you purchase your ticket, you will get a sticker put on your clothes, and be told when to show up by the busses, that will drive you to Newgrange. We used the waiting time to have a look at an exhibition about the area and its historical findings.
After a short bus ride we arrived at Newgrange, where we were greeted by our guide. It is not possible to visit this site without joining a guided tour. First, we gathered outside the “main entrance” to the tomb, and she told us a lot of interesting facts about it. Newgrange is a 5000 year old burial mound – meaning that it is actually older than the pyramids! It is also on UNESCO’s list of cultural heritage, and standing in front of it, it is not difficult to understand why.
Newgrange is a mound made of earth and rocks with grass on top of it. All the way around is placed large rocks, wherein different signs and patterns are carved. What these means, nobody knows for sure… So feel free to let your imagination run wild while looking at them.
Visiting a burial chamber…
The mound of earth is impressive in size with a diameter of 76 meters. We thought that our guided tour would continue all the way around it, so imagine our surprise when we where told to follow our guide inside the tomb. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures in here, but from the inside, Newgrange is even more impressive. You will be led into a large open space with a high ceiling. Out by the walls there are 3 smaller chambers, which properly have worked as burial grounds. Everything in here is build up in stone, sitting so closely together that they don’t collapse. In the 5000 years Newgrange has existed, not a single drop of water has found its way in here! You can have a little peek inside in this older clip from National Geographic:
What is even more impressive is that the burial mound is constructed so that at every winter solstice, the sun will lighten up the entire burial chamber on the inside! We got to see a simulation made with electric light, but that should be nothing compared to the real deal. Every year, thousands of people joins the Winter Solstice Lottery with the hope of seeing this with their own eyes. Only 100 people get to come each year – crossing their fingers that the weather acts nicely in the few minutes this phenomena appears.
View of the green hills of Ireland
After the visit inside the tomb, we had some free time to spend before the bus would take us back. We took a walk around the huge pile of earth and stone to get a better feeling of its size – and at the same time, we enjoyed the view of the area. Newgrange is not the only impressive thing here. The view is very impressive as well! The hilly landscape was very beautiful, and you could see several burial mounds scattered throughout the landscape.
The bus took us back to the visitor centre, where our driver waited to bring us to our next stop. The trip to Newgrange and back took about 1 hour and 15 minutes in total. Even though it wasn’t a visit we had planned ourselves, I will definitely recommend it if you are interested in history. An impressive burial mound placed in the middle of the most beautiful landscape is not a bad place to have a stop on a road trip if you ask me. 🙂
Find your way
If you are driving to Newgrange yourself, set your gps to Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre. Read more about opening hours, tickets, etc. on their website.
Visited in July 2017
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