Sacred Places Europe: 108 Destinations by Brad Olsen.
Combining current trends, academic theories, and historical insights, this
travel guide brings European spiritual locales into perspective by explaining
the significance of each sacred site. The cultural relevance, history, and
spirituality of each site are explained, creating a moving and artistic travel
experience. Each destination with selections spanning more than 15 countries
throughout Europe is accompanied by maps and directions.
Irish Sacred sites include Croagh Patrick, the Hill of Tara,
Loughcrew, Newgrange and
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Newgrange entry from Sacred Places Europe
In the verdant green Boyne Valley are three huge earth mounds, the most
impressive is called Newgrange. The two other nearby mounds are named
and Dowth. All three are said by dowsers to intersect at key "telluric
energy" points, as well as being situated in perfect alignment with seasonal
points of solar movements.
Newgrange and the other megaliths in the valley
were created some 5,000 years ago by little known kinsmen known as the
Beaker People, who built in the Boyne Valley but nowhere else in Ireland. To
add further mystery, the Beaker People also constructed monuments on the
Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. No direct traces of these people
have been found anywhere else in the world.
Surrounding the exterior of the Newgrange mound are images of spirals, chevrons,
and other symbolic forms carved on the huge stones. There are a total of 97
curbstones lying on their sides around the mound, with the carved patterns also
appearing inside the passage. The carvings are believed to be recordings of
astronomical and cosmological observations. The internal chamber has a
funnel shaped roof and is externally connected by a long passageway.
Whatever rituals or activities the Beaker People may have performed in this
internal chamber remain a mystery. The mound covering the internal passage is
more than 40 feet (12m) in height and covers an acre (.4 hectare) of ground. The
egg-shaped mound is called a tumulus, rising from the meadow and surrounded by a
stone curbing. Over 20,000 cantaloupe-size stones were brought in from 75 miles
(120 km) away to create the bulk of the tumulus. The entrance to Newgrange is
marked by the elaborately carved Threshold Stone, featuring carved spirals
framed by concentric circles and diamond shapes. The outside construction of
Newgrange was once surrounded by 38 enormous pillars, but only 12 survive.
Newgrange could be the largest and oldest sundial in the world.
Conventional archaeologists regard the mounds in Boyne Valley as part of a
prehistoric cemetery complex, largely because charred human remains were found
deep inside their chambered passageways. The Boyne Valley passage chambers are
fine examples of megalithic construction, but Newgrange is more than just a
On the days near the winter solstice, December 21st, the entrance
passage exactly aligns with the rising sun, illuminating a
triple spiral relief
sculpture in the farthest recess of the chamber. It was clearly built to mark
the final turning point in the sun's cycle, making Newgrange an efficient and
The image was printed in The Irish Times newspaper on the 22nd December 2004.
Getting to Newgrange
Newgrange is located in the Boyne Valley, seven miles (11 km) south of the
picturesque Irish seaport town Drogheda, which has a train station and local bus
service directly to Newgrange. The site is well marked along the main N1 Belfast
road, if driving by car. The Knowth and Dowth mounds are both found on the
nearby road to Slane. All can be visited quite easily on a day trip from Dublin,
which is located 28 miles (45 km) due south.
There were nearly 28,000 applications on hand at the Visitor's Centre to be
inside the chamber of Newgrange for the 2006 Winter Solstice. Only a total of 50
people win the randomly drawn lottery every year to witness the spectacular
event. 10 people are allowed inside each of the 5 mornings when the chamber is
illuminated around the mid point.