Dec 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Greetings! Happy winter!

While December 21 is the date of the winter solstice, it's celebrated for a few days running at Newgrange in Ireland.
View of the roof box (above)

When Tom and I visited Newgrange in October, we were led into the inner chamber. The lights were switched off and a beam of light was cast from the front into the chamber to simulate what the morning of the winter solstice would look like. It's such a wonder that ancient people built that structure and that we can see what they saw. At sunrise on the winter solstice, a specially designed roof box above the entry captures the ray of light and sends the beam all the way through the chamber to the rear. You are not allow to take photographs inside the chamber, so I'm including some (above) from

Below are some images we took on our visit.
A sample of the carved images. Carvings just like these are inside the chamber. There are some more modern carvings as well from before the time when the site was protected. But the ancient ones are very evident and amazing.

A view of the entry where you can clearly see the square shaped roof box that funnels the sunlight inside.

What's incredible to think about is how old this structure is. It was built about 3200 BC, making it older than the pyramids in Egypt. It lies in what was, and is to this day, a fertile farmland in the Boyne valley. What the chamber was (and there are several others in this valley as well) is up for speculation. It's called a passage grave, but it could have been used for worship activities and perhaps burial for only a few special people. You can learn more about Newgrange and what is happening there at this year's winter solstice on this blog. A lottery is held every year to determine who will get go inside at the solstice. We were invited to enter the lottery while we were there. If you go to the blog, where there are lots of photos, you'll see that there is snow on the ground. That is not a common occurrence. It's been a snowy season thus far in Ireland!

1 comment:

  1. A place I'd love to visit for sooo long now.
    Happy Winter to you!