The ritual origins of the roof-box at Newgrange

Copyright Laura E. Freeman Marr, 2018.


This thesis explores the unique archaeological feature of Newgrange known as the roof-box, which was rediscovered after the excavations carried out at the site in the 1960s by Michael J. O’Kelly.

This rediscovery led to the realization that the roof-box is in fact an open structure that is aligned with the winter solstice sun, and that the solstice sun annually penetrates the passageway illuminating the chamber of the tomb. Since this discovery, Newgrange has grown into a major tourist site that is focused on the solstice phenomenon.

This thesis will examine concepts of ritual throughout history in association with the roof-box and winter solstice. It will also examine concepts of authenticity and public ritual in the form of modern tourism, and the various ways in which the roof-box at Newgrange is interpreted.

Full Paper in PDF format (1.5mb)

Newgrange viewed from the river Boyne
Newgrange viewed from the banks of the River Boyne

Boyne Valley Private Day Tours

Boyne Valley Tours Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour: Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice, Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick let a Paschal fire in 433  More ...

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