After viewing the neolithic remains of Newgrange through the virtual tour on voicesfromthedawn.com, I was immediately struck by the interesting spiral details carved on the entrance rock. According to a video by National Geographic, this tomb has existed for more than 5000 years, making it as old as the dawn of recorded history. The image is again repeated in a smaller side on the inside of the chamber. I was especially taken aback by the image because this tri-spiral is of particular importance to my family. My brother and father both have this spiral tattooed on their arms as a tribute to their Irish heritage. Although I always believed that this was a Celtic symbol, the existence of it as a carving in this stone, which predates the Celts by 2,500 years, makes the symbol an even more profound representation of Irish history.
Even more striking is the position of this symbol in the back of the chamber. According to Newgrange.com, locals believe that the spiral used to be illuminated by the rising sun during the winter solstice. Considering this symbol exists at the end of a 60 ft corridor, this illumination is substantial. Not only does this fact suggest a foundational significance of the symbol in ancient Irish culture, but the concurrent timing of sunrise and the symbol’s illumination indicates the ancient society’s advanced understanding of astronomy and their significant engineering capabilities. Considering the technology of the time was undeveloped, the scope of this construction is especially impressive.
Additionally, this structure predates Stonehenge and The Pyramids of Giza; two structures that also align with astronomical events. This places Newgrange as one of the oldest examples of humans possessing an advanced understanding of nature and materials. while Ireland is often associated with British oppression and periodic tragedy, such the images of Famine Roads on Ireland’s hillside, it is clear that early Irish inhabitants were capable of advanced thinking, organizational skills, and difficult feats of engineering.