Friday, April 27, 2012

Prehistoric mystery...

There are places that cast a spell on you.. Newgrange is  on that list. A pagan dream of esoteric ceremonies and mystical dances. Time and space frozen into stone... Newgrange  which is a 30 minute drive from Dublin, Ireland, is older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge..

Newgrange is part of a heritage trail in Ireland, called Bru na Boine which includes the burial mounds of Knowth, Douth, and the Hill of Tara among others.
 The Newgrange site sits perched on a hill in the Boyne Valley with lush green pastures and hills all around. 

  The exterior of the mound is decorated with 97 large kerbstones(that are carved with intriguing spiral designs).

This tomb is called a passage tomb because of the long corridor leading to a central burial room. Were these sacred temples or astronomical observatories? Or territorial markers? Or were they a pagan homage to the seasons?  Nobody knows for sure.

 Our guide, Karlos warns us that those who are claustrophobic should think twice...We crept into the narrow passage, squeezing ourselves between closely placed rocks. The path went on a slight incline and then widened into an inner burial chamber built in the shape of a crucifix. 

The overlapping stones form an intricate conical roof and have been packed with burnt clay and sand. For millennia, the roof has been intact and kept the inner chamber dry.

 Many of the stones are decorated with ancient art- symbols like triangles, waves, spirals, lozenges and circles. Karlos tells us that this place has two thirds of all the known Neolithic carvings and they are similar to Aboriginal representations found in other parts of the world.

Maybe they represent symbols from nature: the sun, sky and the air? 

Newgrange is famous for its winter solstice when the rays of sunlight enter the roof box at the entrance, crawl into the passage, and fall on the inner chamber, illuminating it with golden light- the event lasts just 17 minutes. This incredible event is a great tourist attraction and tickets are sold by luck-of-the-draw lottery.         



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