1Russell, George William (Æ). Imaginations and Reveries. Dublin: Maunsel & Roberts, 1921. 136-37.
The text may be read in its entirety here. Æ was the nom de plume of the Irish writer, poet, and painter George William Russell (1867 – 1935). A mystic who also considered himself a clairvoyant, Russell was part of a group of Dublin Theosophists that included William Butler Yeats.
Russell uses some of the same phrases at the end of his poem, "Content:"
Come away, O, come away;
We will quench the heart's desire
Past the gateways of the day
In the rapture of the fire.
(Russell, George. (A.E.). Collected Poems of A.E. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1927. 297.)
Later in his life Russell gave a further explanation of how he came to imagine the dialogue inside Newgrange:
"To one who lay on the mound which is called the Brugh on the Boyne a form like that the bards speak of Angus appeared, and it cried: 'Can you not see me? Can you not hear me? I come from the Land of Immortal Youth.' And I, though I could not be certain of speech, found the wild words flying up to my brain interpreting my own vision of the god, and it seemed to be crying to me..."
(Russell, George. (A.E.). The Candle of Vision. London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1919. 168.)
2O'Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O'Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 24.
3The World Heritage Site listing (UNESCO) is for the entire Brú na Bóinne complex of ancient monuments.
"Newgrange is unhesitatingly regarded by the prehistorian as the great national monument of Ireland; in the words of the late Sean O Riordain, 'one of the most important ancient places in Europe'...each generation finds in it something new and interesting." (O'Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O'Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982.7.)
4Lhwyd, Edward. "Several Observations Relating to the Antiquities and Natural History of Ireland, Made by Mr. Edw. Lhwyd, in His Travels Thro' That Kingdom. In a Letter to Dr. Tancred Robinson, Fellow of the College of Physicians and Royal Society." Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775) 27 (1710-1712): 503-06.
Some 70 years later Thomas Pownell described his difficulty in entering Newgrange, with its cairn partially collapsed into the entrance of the passage: "Four of the side stones, beginning from the fifth on the right hand, or eastern side, stand now leaning over to the opposite side; so that here the passage is scarce permeable. We made our way by creeping on our hands and knees till we came to this part. Here we were forced to turn upon our sides, and edge ourselves on with one elbow and one foot. After we had passed this strait, we were enabled to stand; and by degrees, as we advanced farther..." (Pownall, Thomas. "A Description of the Sepulchral Monuments at Newgrange." Archaeologia (1773): 2, 236-75.)
According to O'Kelly: "Most of the other writers attributed Newgrange to the Danes and influences were also invoked from Egypt, India, Ethiopia, Phoenicia, Celtic Gaul, and soon; in fact, almost any race under the sun was considered eligible save for the natives themselves."
It is ironic that the eighteenth-century authors could have considered that the Vikings might have constructed the monuments. As George Petrie put it in 1834, "That the Danes, far from being the erectors of the sepulchral mound at New Grange, and the others contiguous to it, were, on the contrary, the very first that violated them..." (Petrie, George, and D.J.S. O'Malley. "Aspects of George Petrie. V. An Essay on Military Architecture in Ireland Previous to the English Invasion." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 72 (1834 (1972)): 262-63.)
The impetus to credit the ancient tombs of Ireland to other races may have derived from a conviction by the ascendency that the natives could not be capable of building these monuments. Also, according to David McGuinness,"...this speculative and uncritical approach begun in the first decades of the eighteenth century, combined with the new ideals of Romanticism, was responsible for the excesses of [Vallancey] that saw its close. All the way through to the 1830s, writings on the megalithic tombs of Ireland are dominated by a non-archaeological approach. The spurious philology and etymology of Rowlands, whereby the origins and purpose of megalithic tombs were derived from the meanings and connections of their local names, in conjunction with an almost scholastic obsession with the writings of the ancients and those of modem authors from Rowlands onwards, stifled the ability of most to examine the monuments in the field afresh and without preconceptions." (McGuiness, David. "Edward Lhuyd's Contribution to the Study of Irish Megalithic Tombs." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 126 (1996): 82.)
About the coins found buried at the monument which Lhuyd cites as evidence that Newgrange pre-dated the Danes, Carleton Jones wrote, "This is a practice that has been documented at ancient sites in Roman Britain and it is possible that the Newgrange offerings were made by visitors from Roman Britain. It is also quite possible, however, that the offerings were made by Irish returning home from raiding or trading excursions to Britain. Whoever made the offerings, it is clear that Newgrange was still a respected and powerful place in the landscape almost three millennia after it had been built." (Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 249.)
7Herity, Michael. "From Lhuyd to Coffey: New Information from Unpublished Descriptions of the Boyne Valley Tombs." Studia Hibernica 7 (1967): 128-29.
8Boate, Gerard, and Thomas Molyneux. A Natural History of Ireland; in Three Parts. Dublin: Printed for G. Ewing, 1725. 204.
This account may be read in its entirety here.
9Pownall, Thomas. Archaeologia; Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity. London: Printed by J. Nichols [etc., 1789. 258.
Pownall tempered his crediting of Newgrange to the Phoenicians with this proviso: "'Thofe whom this conjecture cannot perfuade may, however, profit by the hint, and poffibly amufe themfelve if fuggefting fome more rational account of the matter."
This text may be read in its entirety here.
10Vallancey, Charles. Collectanea De Rebus Hibernicis. Vol. 4. Dublin: Luke White, 1783. 211. This text may be read in its entirely here.
As an example of Vallancey's interpretation of a Newgrange engraving: "[Stone #3] is found on the front of the covering stone of the east tabernacle, and is written in symbolic characters, signifying the House of God. It is remarkable that all the ancient altars found in Ireland, and now distinguished by the name of Cromleachs or Hoping stones, were originally called Bothal or the House of God; and they seem to be of the same species as those mentioned in the book of Genesis, called by the Hebrews Bethel, which has the fame signification as the Irish Eothal. The tabernacles in the mount of New-Grange have an exact conformity to the Cromleachs, found in different parts of the kingdom." (Vallancey. Vol. 2, 200.)
11Hall, Samuel C. Ireland - Its Scenery, Character Etc. Vol. 2. London: How and Parson, 1841. 382.
According to O'Kelly, "It is probable that the labourers who were instrumental in uncovering the entrance were more attuned to this aspect of Newgrange than the scholars who came to marvel at it or the landowner Charles Campbell.."
13The Tuatha Dé Danaan ("People of the Goddess Danu") were thought to be a god-like race who ruled Ireland before the coming of the Milesians (Celts). After the Tuatha Dé Danaan were defeated in battle they retreated underground, and were thought to live in "fairy fort" mounds such as Newgrange.
"Aengus Óg" is also spelled "Óengus," or "Aonghus."
14O'Laverty, James. "Newgrange Still Called by Its Ancient Name, Brugh-na-Boinne." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 2.4 (1892): 430.
Brú na Bóinne actually refers to the entire complex of Boyne tombs, including the other major sites of Dowth and Knowth. Newgrange itself was known in the ancient tales as Sí in Bhrú, the "Fairy Mound of the Brú." The name "New Grange" was given to the townland when in 1142 it was incorporated into the holdings of the Cistercian monks of nearby Mellifont Abbey as a new farm, or "grange." After the confiscation of church property that followed the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, just a couple of miles downstream from the mound, the land was deeded to Charles Campbell.
15Jackson, Kenneth Hurstone. The Oldest Irish Tradition: A Window on the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964. 44.
The Dagda was called the "Good God" not because he was "good" in the sense of beneficent, but because he was considered "good for everything." The Dagda, who defeated Lugh at the Battle of Uisneach, was ultimately "one and the same" as his son Aengus Óg.
18MacCana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. New York: Hamlyn, 1970. 33.
Fráech, the son of Boinn's sister, is buried at the Carnfree inauguration mound at the Rathcroghan Royal Site.
19Ó hÓgáin Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 19.
20O'Grady, Standish. Early Bardic Literature. London: Sampson Low, Searle, Marston & Rivington, 1879. 71.
According to archaeologist Carlton Jones, the name Aengus can be translated as "real vigour." (Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 198-204.)
21Carey, John. "Time, Memory, and the Boyne Necropolis." Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 10 (1990): 24-36.
Carrey suggests that the meaning and usage of Newgrange was passed down through legend and practice for 5,000 years. "On the literary side, the earliest of the tales may go back to eighth-century originals, but the high degree of variation between them suggests that the legend continued to have an oral basis throughout the medieval period. Even if we posit extremely early written sources for all of the versions, however, we are still left with an oral tradition spanning approximately four thousand years. Besides the sheer duration of this interval, we must reckon with the momentous cultural developments which it included: the conversion of the Irish to Christianity and also, almost certainly, the arrival of Celtic language in Ireland. Could an idea survive such far-reaching changes, and so many centuries? No a priori dogma can settle such a question in advance: the evidence must be considered on its merits. In my own opinion the specific localization of the legends, taken together with the apparent uniqueness of the design of Newgrange, cannot reasonably be dismissed as mere coincidence."
Aengus' semantic trickery involving time that gained him the possession of Newgrange from his father is analogous to his father's manipulation of time that contracted Aengus' gestation and birth into a single day. This emphasis on the passage of time in the legendary tales of the monument is given a astronomical resonance in the yearly appearance of the sun through the roof-box on the morning of the Winter Solstice. As authors Brendan Purcell and Dorothy Cross put it, "Far more than words, our deeds reveal and communicate who we are. In a gigantic drama between stone and sun, re-enacted every year, the neolithic people who built Newgrange expressed their grasp of the mysterious answer to their quest for the meaning and order of their existence. They deployed all their technological, architectural, artistic, astronomic and mathematical skills to elevate midwinter sunrise into a cosmic YES at the zero point of cosmic forsakeness." (Purchell, Brendan, and Dorothy Cross. "Newgrange: Between Sun and Stone." The Crane Bag: The Other Ireland 2.1/2 (1978): 89-95.)
Within her poem "Carnival," Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill deals with a this theme, but on an more personal, and mortal, level.
If we were gods
here at Newgrange—
you Sualtam or the Daghda,
myself the famous river—
we could freeze the sun
and the moon
for a year and a day
to perpetuate the pleasure
we have together.
Alas, it's far from gods
we are, but bare, forked creatures.
The heavenly bodies stop
only for a single, transitory moment.
(Ní Dhomhnaill, Nuala, and Paul Muldoon, trans. The Astrakhan Cloak. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP, 1993. 13.)
22"Aengus." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aengus>.
According to the "Death Tales of the Tuatha de Danaan", Aengus killed his step father Elcmar for killing Midir.
Aengus also slew the poet of Lugh Lamfada for lying about his brother Ogma an Cermait. The poet claimed that Ogma was having an affair with one of Lugh's wives. Aengus killed the poet in front of Midir.
In "The Wooing of Etain," Aengus was able to partially lift Fuamnach's spell against Etain, the horse goddess he had won for his brother Midir. Fuamnach in a jealous rage had turned the girl into a butterfly. Turning her into a woman at night, Aengus made her his lover until Fuamnach found out about it and drove her away.
Four bright birds that ever hovered about his head were supposed to be his kisses taking shape in this lovely form, and at their singing love came springing up in the hearts of youths and maidens.
In the "Tale of the Two Pails," a sidhe woman and foster daughter of Aengus gets lost and winds up in the company of St. Patrick. The girl converts to Christianity, and Aengus can not win her back. He leaves, and she dies of grief a few weeks later.
23Gregory, Lady Augusta, and W. B. Yeats. Cuchulain of Muirthemne: the Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. London: J. Murray, 1902. 145-46.
An interesting aside to this tale of Aengus and the swans is the fact that the area near Newgrange is a wintering ground for the Whooper Swan, which take up residence in Iceland every October to April. ("101 Facts about Newgrange." Mythical Ireland. Web. <http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/newgrange-facts/>.)
25Cross, Tom Peete, and Clark Harris Slover. Ancient Irish Tales. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1936. 374
In one of the Fenian tales, "Fort of the Rowann Tree (Bruighion Chaorthainn), a poet puts Fionn Mac Cumhaill under a taboo in which he must answer this poetic riddle:
I saw a house in the country
Out of which no hostages are given to a king,
Fire burns it not, harrying spoils it not.
Fionn replies, "I understand that verse, for that is the Brugh of the Boyne that you have seen, namely, the house of Aengus Og of the Brugh, and it cannot be burned or harried as long as Aengus shall live." (Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries,. London: H. Frowde, 1911 .410-416.)
According to O'Kelly, this is a Christian interpretation of an old tradition in an effort to add status to the kings of Tara.
27Eogan, George. "The Archaeology of Brugh Na Bóinne during the Early Centuries A.D." Seanchas Ardmhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society 14.1 (1990): 20.
As George Petrie retold the story in 1845: "...he came by his death at the house of Cletech, the bone of a salmon having stuck in his throat. And he (Cormac) told his people not to bury him at Brugh, (because it was a cemetery of Idolaters,) for he did not worship the same God as any of those interred at Brugh ; but to bury him at Ros na righ, with his face to the east. He afterwards died, and his servants of trust held a council, and came to the resolution of burying him at Brugh, the place where the kings of Tara, his predecessors, were buried. The body of the king was afterwards thrice raised to be carried to Brugh, but the Boyne swelled up thrice, so as that they could not come ; so that they observed that it was ' violating the judgment of a prince' to break through this Testament of the king, and they afterwards dug his grave at Ros na righ, as he himself had ordered." (Petrie, George. The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland: An Essay on the Origin and Uses of the Round Towers of Ireland. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1845. 100.)
28Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries. London: H. Frowde, 1911. 416.
Dalton, John P. "Who Built Dun Aengus? (Continued)." Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society 14.3/4 (1929): 110.
29Pownall, Thomas. "A Description of the Sepulchral Monument at New Grange, near Drogheda in the County of Meath, in Ireland. By Thomas Pownall, Esq. in a Letter to the Rev. Gregory Sharpe, D. D. Master of the Temple." Archaeologia: Or Miscellaneous Tracts, Relating to Antiquity. London: Published by the Society of Antiquaries of London. Sold at the House of the Society, 1770. 236-239.
This text may be read in its entirely here.
The Newenham sketch of Newgrange with the prominent stone atop the mound (see gallery) was accompanied by a note: "'This stone was undermined and thrown down the mound by men seeking for hidden money." The author suggests that Newenham may have been "sketching his guess at the restoration of the original position of a large stone found at the spot...and that he is not sketching something he had actually seen."
O'Kelly believed that Lhwyd saw a stone on top of the cairn, "but it must be questioned if it was a pillar-stone and even if it was, whether it was an original feature of the monument or not." (O'Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O'Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 26-27.)
32Stout, Geraldine. "The Vallancey Triangle." Archaeology Ireland 7.3 (1993): 8-9.
An Ordnance Survey Letter entry (1836) states, "Tradition exists in the county that the caves in these mounds were hiding bars of gold, but they couldn't be removed as dangerous evil spirits were watching over the treasure." (O'Donovan, John, Thomas O'Connor, P. (Patrick) O'Keeffe, and Michael Herity. Ordnance Survey Letters Meath: Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Meath Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1836. Dublin: Four Masters, 2001. 120.)
34Candon, Anthony, and Claire O'Kelly. "An Early Nineteenth Century Description of Newgrange, County Meath." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 114 (1984): 24-27.
An author in 1827 reported that, "All the roads in the neighbourhood are paved with its stones; immense quantities have been taken away." (Higgins, Godfrey. The Celtic Druids. London: R. Hunter, 1827. xli.)
The Irish farmer in the modern era is a partner in the effort to preserve the nation's heritage. An article entitled "The tombs of our ancestors," in the "Farmers Journal" section of Country Living, January, 28, 2012 mentions the word "farmers" eight times. The article concludes: "While the Stone Age farmers may have constructed these monuments over 4,000 years ago it is the 21st century farmer who is now their custodian, preserving them for future generations and providing the dead with the respect they deserve."
35"Newgrange." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange>.
37Westropp, Thomas J. "Newgrange." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 3.2 (1893): 213.
Even once in state care, Newgrange was largely unsupervised and independent investigators, or vandals, could enter at will during some hours. One amateur sleuth thought that he had discovered a new passage within the tomb. He wrote to Westropp: "" I got my head and shoulders so far in that I was able to see that the passage turned towards the middle of the mound. It is nearly filled to the top with small broken stones and the parts of the large stones forming its sides are covered with carvings and spirals; it evidently leads to another chamber within the mound. Its exploration would probably result in an interesting discovery, and valuable arms and ornaments might be found."
39Eogan, George, and Eoin Grogan. "Prehistoric and Early Historic Culture Change at Brugh Na Bóinne." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 91C (1991): 110.
The authors state that there may also have been a fourth large site, at Ballincrad (site G), not much survives, but there is evidence that the main mound might have been about 70m (230 ft) in diameter.
Throughout history there have been different accounts of the number of stones in the incomplete "Great Circle" around Newgrange, since some stones have been broken or removed. O'Kelly, however, concluded that there was "very little evidence...in the excavated areas for the original presence of these 'missing' stones...One must be prepared to accept the thesis that the circle may never have been completed." The dating of the monument was made possible because the spaces between the slabs of the roof were caulked with a mixture of burnt soil and sea sand, from which two C14 readings, each of 2500 BCE, could be obtained. (O'Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O'Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 79, 22.)
40Herity, Michael. Irish Passage Graves. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. i.
41Ó Ríordáin, Sean P., and Marcus P. Ó HEochaidhe. "Trial Excavation at Newgrange." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 86.1 (1956): 55.
The excavation that first uncovered some of the inscribed kerbstones was done June, 1928 (Praeger and Macalister), and only lasted a couple of weeks.
The authors conclude their discussion of the "lost romanticism" of the restored monument with this: "We have come to equate the monuments of the past with ruins and forget that the ruin is the corpse, not the living body. We hope that as a result of our work and that of our many and devoted collaborators and helpers over a period of almost twenty years, we have succeeded in breathing some faint spark of life into Newgrange so that it now justifies in some part its ancient claim to be the Brú or mansion of the Good God, the Dagda of early Irish tradition."
Geologists have suggested that much of the Newgrange slabs were collected from a rocky beach approximately 20 km (12.5 mi). These blocks were likely brought to the construction site by sea, and then up the Boyne by securing them to the undersides of small boats at low tide. Then they may have been brought uphill to the site by using ropes and log rollers. The stones used for the cairn were from the nearby river terraces. The figure-eight shaped pond below the tomb may have been the site of an ancient quarry.("Newgrange." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange>.)
44O'Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O'Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 74.
About his decision, at the conclusion of his fieldwork in 1975, to leave much of the tomb unexcavated, O'Kelly wrote: "By 1975 the objectives originally outlined had been achieved and we felt it desirable that the remainder of the site should be left for future generations of archaeologists who, presumably, would have newer and better techniques and fuller knowledge at their disposal." (p. 67)
The "closing stone," was used in an experiment by the excavators to determine how well it would serve to cover the opening of the tomb. They discovered that "with the curved end on the ground and the straight one uppermost it fitted exactly under the overhang of RS1, closing the passage perfectly."
48Wilde, William Robert. The Beauties of the Boyne, and Its Tributary, the Blackwater. Dublin: James McGlashan, 1850. 193.
Wilde's account of this stone may be read in its entirety here.
Michael Herity observes that the decorated stone that forms the exterior edge of what we now call the "roof-box" was not noted by Petrie, in 1833. Thus Herity suggests "we can limit the date of its discovery to a period of, at most, 15 years (1833-48). It may have been that it was the work of the Ordnance Survey in this area in 1836 that brought [the stone] to light or, alternatively, the work recorded by Lord Albert Conyngham in 1842 which revealed further gold objects." (Herity, Michael. "From Lhuyd to Coffey: New Information from Unpublished Descriptions of the Boyne Valley Tombs." Studia Hibernica 7 (1967): 136.)
Cairn G at Carrowkeel, in the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo, has a roofbox above its entrance, similar to the one at Newgrange. ("Carrowkeel Cairn G Summer Solstice." Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb - Boyne Valley, Ireland. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.newgrange.com/carrowkeel-solstice-08.htm>.)
In an interview, O'Kelly's daughter described accompanying her father to a Winter Solstice sunrise inside the tomb still under excavation: "I still remember just being all alone with him in the tomb in pitch dark, none of the television cameras and all of the things that there are now, then suddenly the light come in and touched the back wall it was incredible...When you went there in the early days it was like 5,000 years ago was speaking to you, now everyone knows about and it's still wonderful but earlier on you had the feeling that you were having the same experience that they had back then." ("Newgrange Still Subject to Irish Weather." Newgrange Neolithic (Stone Age) Megalithic Monument. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.newgrange.eu/solstice_2008.htm>.)
52Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 199.
Dr. Jones imagines the Neolithic Winter Solstice event: "As the sun's rays moved across the front of the cairn the white quartz facade would have glowed as if lit from within and when the rays reached the roof box, an angular design, composed of triangles, would have been picked out on the stone that forms the top of the roof box. Although those outside would not be able to see it, similar angular designs composed of triangles would have been illuminated deep within the tomb chamber at the same time." Jones suggests that there was likely a morning ritual at Newgrange and an evening ritual at Dowth and on the equinoxes a morning ritual on the east side of Knowth and an evening ritual on its west side. "Only a handful of people can fit inside the chambers of these passage tombs to observe their illumination by the rays of the sun, but large crowds could certainly be accommodated just outside the entrances. Perhaps we should envisage a select group of priests/priestesses within the tomb emerging just after the sun's rays had penetrated the chamber and displaying to the congregation 'proof' of what had just occurred inside the chamber." (p. 186)
O'Kelly also discovered, in the same layer as the white quartz, small "grey granite boulders" that he later interspersed with the quartz in the vertical facade that he constructed at the front of the tomb.
The author states, "It had become obvious that the quartz/granite made up this surface at the front of the mound and that elsewhere selected boulders of the normal cairn material had been used, that it had been built on top of the kerb as a revetment and that when it fell there was nothing to hold the cairn behind it in place."
55McManus, Ruth. "Heritage and Tourism in Ireland -an Unholy Alliance?" Geographic Society of Ireland. University College Dublin. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.ucd.ie/gsi/pdf/30-2/heritage.pdf>.
Within the heading " Question of ‘Authenticity’, Interpretation, Destruction of Heritage," the author argues that a cultural or historic landscape must be seen as one that embodies different values, and that the "heritage industry" too often does not take into account the existence of contradictory views of historical events, perhaps for fear of confusing its audience. "There is a danger that what will be dressed up for consumption through the heritage industry will be the ‘attractive side of events and life in the past, aspects that will not disturb the visitors or cause them to leave the park, interpretative centre or museum before they have hit the gift shop and the restaurant facilities’ (Cooney, 1991: 23)."
See also: "Newgrange." Irish Megaliths: Field Guide & Photographs by Anthony Weir. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/zNewgrangeCircle2.htm>.
56Giot, P.-R. "Book Review of "Michael J. O'Kelly 'Newgrange Archaeology, Art and Legend'" Antiquity 57.220 (1983): 149-50.
The author added, " I don't like either the rather artificial arrangement at the entrance so that the ingoing and outgoing flocks of visitors don't collide. 70,000 intruders a year, most of them philistines, is of course quite a tribulation for such a sanctuary."
57Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 59.
In his comments on O'Kelly's choices made during the restoration of the tomb's facade, Hutton says, "There is a possibility that at times the statements made by the tomb-builders (to spirits as well as to posterity) may be getting scrambled by their most careful interpreters."
In support of the reconstruction decisions made by O'Kelly, Jones reports that similar near-vertical passage tomb walls are known on such monuments in Brittany.
The author credits some of these ideas here to sources including: Lewis-Williams, D. and D. Pearce (Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods. 2005), Bergh, S. (Landscape of the Monuments —A study of the passage tombs of the Cúil Irra region, Co. Sligo, Ireland. 1995.) Darvill, T. ("White on Blonde: Quartz Pebbles and the Use of Quartz at Neolithic Monuments in the Island of Man and Beyond." In Jones, A. and G. MacGreror (eds) Colouring the Past — The Significance of colour in archaeological research. 2002), and O'Brien, W. ("Sacred Ground: Megalithic Tombs in Coastal South-West Ireland." Bronze Age Studies 4, Department of Archaeology. 1999).
On the subject of the triple-spiral Jones writes, "If it was envisaged as a connecting vortex by the Neolithic people, it is possible that it only 'opened up' for these few days each year. Who might have traveled along this vortex when it did open? Two likely possibilities are shamans and the dead."
Celtic Christians have sometimes used the triple spiral to represent the Christian Holy Trinity. Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism and Wicca use it to represent a number of three-fold concepts in their belief systems, such as the "three realms" of Land, Sea and Sky.("Triple Spiral." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_spiral>.)
61Megalithic art motifs are often divided into "ten categories: five of which are curvilinear (circles, spirals, arcs, serpentiniforms and dot-in-circles) and the other five of which are rectilinear (chevrons, lozenges, radials, parallel lines and offsets)." ("Newgrange." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange>.)
Jones suggests that the inspiration for many design elements of megalithic art may have began with induced hallucinations, interpreted by the Neolithic perspective of their otherworld beliefs (p. 160).
Poet Robert Graves explained, within his own belief system, that, "...the sacred kings of Bronze Age Ireland, who were solar kings of a most primitive type...were buried beneath these barrows; but their spirits went to 'Caer Sidi,' the Castle of Ariadne, namely Corona Borealis. Thus the pagan Irish could call New Grange 'Spiral-Castle' and, revolving a fore-finger in explanation, could say, 'Our king has gone to Spiral Castle': in other words, 'he is dead.'" (Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: The Noonday Press, 1966. 103)
63Coffey, George. "On the Tumuli and Inscribed Stones at New Grange, Dowth, and Knowth." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 30 (1892): 21-22.
65Vallancey 210. This section may be read in its entirety here.
The author's "translations" for the inscriptions on the Newgrange stones (see illustration on the page): "No 1... Supreme Being or active principle; No. 2...three symbols represent the Supreme Being, or first cause; The Ogham... inscription is To him who is the universal Spirit; No 3 is written in symbolic characters, signifying the House of God; No. 4 Is found on the south side of the east tabernacle, written in the Ogham and symbolic characters. The symbol is that representing the earth and universal nature, and with the Ogham which is written from the left to the right, makes a mor an Ops, that is, to the great mother Ops, or to the great mother Nature; No. 5 Is found on the front stone of the north tabernacle; and represents chance, fate or providence; No. 6 Is found on the north stone of the west tabernacle, written in the Ogham...that is, the sepulchre of the hero; No. 7 Is...written in the Ogham...probably specifying the several species of victims sacrificed at this temple, in honour of universal nature, providence and the names of the hero interred within."
66Tuffy, Clare. "Newgrange: A Passage to the Afterworld." World of Hibernia 22 Dec. 1997.
67Hoare, Sir Richard Colt. Journal of a Tour in Ireland, AD, 1806. London: Printed for R. Phillips, 1807. 257.
This may be read in its entirety here.
The author's estimate of the number of years required to build the tomb presumes that they were able to work for two months each year, after the spring planting season. His figures are based upon the earlier work of Frank Mitchell. (Mitchell, Frank. The Irish Landscape. London: Collins, 1976. 130.)
Carlton Jones suggests that the evidence of small hut found just outside the entrance to the monument, contemporary with its construction, may indicate that the hut played an important part of the rituals that took place in front of the tomb. (Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 198.)
71Condit, Tom. "The Newgrange Cursus and the Theatre of Ritual." Archaeology Ireland (Supplement: Brú Na Bóinne) 11.3 (1997): 26-27.
The author describes what remains of the original, much larger ritual pathway: "The Newgrange cursus, located c. 100m east of the great passage tomb on a north-south axis, consists of two parallel banks 20m apart, the southern end closed off by a V-shaped terminal."
72"The Ancient Astronomers of Newgrange." Mythical Ireland- Newgrange, Ancient Sites, Myths, Mysteries, Tours and Astronomy. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. <http://www.mythicalireland.com/astronomy/ancientastronomers.html>
This website is a good starting point for the discussion of ancient astronomers: "There is a dim light which shines from the remote distance of the Neolithic past. It carries a message of wisdom, of understanding, of cosmic awe and inspiration, and astronomical mastery of the highest order. We have regrettably looked upon the ancient people of this land as being primitive, and in some quarters we are told that these awesome constructs with their dazzling size and arcane symbols, are merely tombs, used to bury the dead. Even today, archaeology calls Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth "passage-tombs". I would like to see that title removed, and to install a more accurate and fitting description - something like 'astronomical timepieces' or 'Stone Age observatories'."
In a completely different, passionate and idiosyncratic vein, another website seems to channel Vallancey.
73"Uriel's Machine." Knight-Lomas.Com. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. <http://www.knight-lomas.com/uriel.html>.
Knight, Christopher, and Robert Lomas. Uriel's Machine: Uncovering the Secrets of Stonehenge, Noah's Flood, and the Dawn of Civilization. Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds, 2001.
74Brennan, Martin. The Boyne Valley Vision. Portlaoise: The Dolmen Press, 1980. 1.
From the author's preface: "What was previously considered the dawn of civilization may in fact have been its high noon. In spite of refinements in the techniques and tools of modern archaeology, we will never be able to fathom the achievements of a people whose primary tools were stone unless we rid ourselves of preconceived ideas about the origins and development of science and art." More information on Martin Brennan is available here.
Mainstream archaeologists and other scientists are usually more skeptical about the claims of a precise Neolithic astronomy. Ronald Hutton writes, "The bold attempts of Martin Brennan to combine the orientations, the art and the settings of the County Meath tombs in order to explain the theology behind them have produced no more than conjectures. His confident tone and refusal to recognize the limitations of his evidence reduce the value of his declarations in the eyes of prehistorians as they may increase it in the estimation of a less wary public. Certainly, the wonderful phenomenaon of the solstice at Newgrange at present offers us puzzles, not answers." (Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 59-60.)
76Aviva, Elyn, and Gary White. Powerful Places in Ireland. Santa Fe: Pilgrims Process, 2011. 39-40.
77Russell, George William (Æ). The Candle of Vision. London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1919. 168.