Winter Sostice sunbeam inside the Newgrange chamber
Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the rising sun at the
Winter Solstice. Above the entrance to the passage of the mound there is a opening called a roof-box.
On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and
travels up the 19m (62ft) passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens
so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated.
Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by a lottery
that takes place at the end of September each year.
All are welcome to gather outside the entrance to the Newgrange mound on each of the mornings from
December 19th to December 23rd inclusive, sunrise is at 8.58am.
Access via the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre or
directly to the actual Newgrange monument.
Winter Solstice Illumunation viewed from the entrance
Newgrange World Heritage site
Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a prehistoric monument dating back over 5,000 years,
The passage tomb features a 19m (62ft) long passage leading to a central chamber which is adorned with megalithic art.
Remarkably, the monument is constructed in such a way that sunlight penetrates its inner sanctum on the mornings around the winter solstice.
The Winter Solstice Phenomenon
The winter solstice, which occurs around December 21st each year, marks the shortest day and longest night of the year.
At Newgrange, during the sunrise on the mornings around the winter solstice, a breathtaking alignment takes place.
The sun's first rays pierce through a specially designed opening above the entrance called a roof-box,
gradually illuminating the narrow passage. As the sun ascends, it bathes the central chamber in a warm glow, lasting for just 17 minutes.
Touching the Light : Winter Solstice Sunbeam inside Newgrange - Photo by Ken Williams
The Ingenious Design
The precision of Newgrange's construction is awe-inspiring. The builders' understanding of celestial movements
is evident in the deliberate positioning of the entrance and passage. The alignment of the passage with
the winter solstice sunrise speaks to a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy, as well as a deep connection
to the natural rhythms of the Earth. The sheer engineering feat achieved without the aid of modern tools adds an extra layer of marvel to the site.
The winter solstice sunrise alignment at Newgrange is more than a celestial event;
it holds spiritual significance for many. The fleeting burst of sunlight symbolizes
the triumph of light over darkness, a theme woven into various cultures and belief systems.
Visitors from all over the world gather at Newgrange to witness this ancient spectacle.
Winter Solstice Dawn at Newgrange, Co. Meath, Ireland
Who were these people gathered on the hillside at Newgrange, the passage grave
built 5,000 years ago in a crook of the River Boyne in Co Meath? Why did they
build this colossal monument and what did they expect from it? Read More...
Sun entering Newgrange at the Winter Solstice
Newgrange Winter Solstice : National Monuments Service
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours.
Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire.
Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland.