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Newgrange - Winter Solstice

Newgrange Winter SolsticeAbove the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is an opening called a roof-box. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the passage and chamber at sunrise around the Winter Solstice. At 8:58am 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. After 17 minutes the sunbeam leaves the chamber and retreats back down the passage.

All are welcome to gather at Newgrange for the sunrise on the mornings around the Solstice (December 18th to December 23rd). Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by lottery. The draw for Solstice 2010 will take place on September 24th 2010. The successful people will be notified by mid October. Fifty names are drawn, and each of the lucky winners can bring a guest, there are ten lottery winners and their guests in the chamber on each of the mornings around the Winter Solstice.

When Newgrange was built over 5000 years ago, the winter solstice sunbeam would have made its way to the back recess of the central chamber. Due to changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis the sunbeam now stops 2 metres from the back recess.

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Dates

Solstice literally means 'Sun Stands Still', for a few days around the time of the winter solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky in that its elevation at noon does not seem to change.  More ...

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2006

Images from the morning of the 21st December 2006. Joe & Clare won tickets in the winter solstice lottery for December 22nd, they were very fortunate to experience a glorious sunrise in the chamber at Newgrange.

Newgrange 2006

Winter Solstice shadow

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2005

I am very grateful to Anne-Maria Moroney who was at Newgrange on the 20th of December and has made these images available.

The sun didn't shine on the morning of the 21st December, the disappointment was eloquently described by Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times.

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2004

Images from the actual morning of the winter solstice - 21st December 2004.

This image photographed from inside the chamber by Alan Betson was printed in the Irish Times newspaper on the 22nd December 2004.

Newgrange Winter Solstice by Alan Betson

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2004

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2004

Beautiful sunrise at Newgrange on the 19th December 2004.

Sun light in the passage at Newgrange viewed from the entrance.

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2003

The Winter Solstice sunrise illuminates the passage way leading into the burial chamber of the megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange on the 21st December 2003. This wonderful  photograph by Alan Betson was printed on the front page of The Irish Times newspaper on the 22nd December 2003.

Winter Solstice 2003 @ Newgrange

Rainbow - Winter Solstice 2002 @ Newgrange

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2002

Images from the Winter Solstice at Newgrange on the 22nd December 2002. A rainbow heightened the experience of those on the outside, as the fortunate few on the inside, selected by lottery experienced the illumination of the passage and chamber.

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2001

Solstice sunrise lets lucky few gaze through window to an ancient world.

Light at the end of the tunnel: the sun makes its way into the main chamber at Newgrange during the winter solstice, photography by Frank McGrath.

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2001


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Solstice Collection
Alan Betson has created a selection of his best Winter Solstice
photographs which are now available to purchase.
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Boyne Valley Tours Private Tour with pick up and return to your accommodation. Newgrange World Heritage site, the 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice, Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings, Bective Abbey and Trim Castle the largest Norman castle in Ireland More ...
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