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If you plan on visiting just one megalithic site on your travels ... make sure it is Newgrange!

Purists may gasp now. Mainly because the almost blinding fašade of quartz stone is a reconstruction. And not an undisputed one to boot - the archaeologists found the stones around the perimeter of the actual tomb and simply fit them into their concept of the "real" Newgrange. And, just by the way, we are not 100% sure whether Newgrange was intended to be a tomb at all. As you can see, Newgrange is surrounded by controversy.

And at the same time claimed by every stakeholder in all things prehistoric. Those believing in ancient astronauts cite Newgrange as an important area. Those searching for Celtic culture copy its pre-Celtic rock art faithfully. Those looking for "hidden knowledge" or earth mysteries find it in any or all carvings, alignments or measurements of the site.

I simply think that Newgrange is awe-inspiring. Situated on a hillside near the banks of the River Boyne, white as pure snow, with a chamber whose roof weighs more than several tanks. And which has survived millennia without mortar, held up by gravity alone.

And as we really do not know much about Newgrange, any reconstruction or theory seems to be valid to a point. Even the purists' view is just another unproven theory.

July 6, 2008 at 5:54 am
(1) Jason says:

Yes, indeed New Grange is a fascinating site!

July 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm
(2) G Smith says:

The construction of the visitor centre and the ‘busing’ of visitors has ruined the unique prehistoric landscape in which Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are situated. The area is so deeply spiritual and unique in the world of archaeology it deserves better than this modern ruination.

July 20, 2008 at 1:13 am
(3) goireland says:

I have to disagree with G Smith’s comment above – the “unique prehistoric landscape” of the Boyne Valley has been influenced by modern settlements, roads and other building works to such an extent, that the Visitor Centre (on the other side of the Boyne and not readily visible from Newgrange, Knowth or Dowth) has a minimum impact.

The bus service for visitors is a huge improvement compared to c 1995, when the old center was in use (it hasn’t been torn down yet, unfortunately) and hundreds of cars were parked next to the Newgrange tumulus.

All in all a win-win-situation in my eyes.

What is more … the tumulus of Newgrange itself is, if we are to be strict, a “modern ruination”. It is in effect a reconstruction that is in no way guaranteed to be even similar to Newgrange when it was planned and built.

The only way to achieve conservation without any (more) modern influences would be to declare prehistoric monuments a no-go area and preserve them “as found”. Making them accessible to a select few only.

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