Newgrange Winter Solstice Webcast

The annual Winter Solstice gathering at the Neolithic Passage Tomb of Newgrange was webcast in December 2020 and 2021 when access to the chamber was restricted due to COVID-19 restrictions. For December 2022 there is a return to an in-person experience through its traditional lottery draw, so there will be no webcast in December 2022.

The following video recording is from the 2020 webcast.



Sunbeam from the Roofbox illuminates the chamber
Sunbeam in the passage leading to Newgrange chamber.

Winter Solstice Webcast 2007

Sunrise at NewgrangeThe Winter Solstice illumination at Newgrange was first was streamed live on the internet in 2007. Victor Reijs has posted a six minute compilation on YouTube of the one hour OPW (Office of Public Works) streamed video.

The 2007 Winter Solstice webcast from Newgrange was broadcast on the mornings of Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd December 2007. The conditions were excellent on the morning of the 21st, the rising sun illuminated the passage and chamber between 8:58am and 9:15am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). On the morning of the 22nd the rising sun was blocked by a low bank of cloud, the sun cleared the cloud by 9:30am, too late to illuminate the chamber.

The webcast and an exhibition at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the re-discovery of the Winter Solstice Phenomenon at Newgrange by Professor O’Kelly in 1967.

Winter Solstice SunbeamNewgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. This baffling orifice held a great surprise for those who unearthed it. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the shortest days of the year around the winter solstice.

At dawn, from December 19th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the passage. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. This event lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am.

Newgrange's accuracy as a time-telling device is remarkable when one considers that it was built 500 years before the Great Pyramids and more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge. The intent of its builders was undoubtedly to mark the beginning of the new year. In addition, it may have served as a powerful symbol of the victory of life over death.

Solstice 2007
Each year the winter solstice event attracts much attention at Newgrange. Many gather at the ancient tomb to wait for dawn, as people did 5,000 years ago. So great is the demand to be one of the few inside the chamber during the solstice that there is a free annual lottery (application forms are available at the Visitor Centre).

Unfortunately, as with many Irish events that depend upon sunshine, if the skies are overcast, there is not much to be seen. Yet all agree that it is an extraordinary feeling to wait in the darkness, as people did so long ago, for the longest night of the year to end.

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Setting Sun Alignments

The Winter Solstice Setting Sun illuminates the chamber at the nearby Dowth mound and at the cairn on Slieve Gullion in Co. Armagh.

 

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