Newgrange: The Neolithic Treasure

After viewing the neolithic remains of Newgrange through the virtual tour on, 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, 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.


  1. I agree that the ancient people that lived there must have belonged to a very advanced community, to construct something which has stood the test of time like nothing else on this planet. The thought and effort that went into the construction and designs cannot be disputed. I did not watch any videos on Newgrange, but I read briefly about its history and am also vastly impressed at what they were able to achieve. I also think it is impressive that their artwork and designs have stood to the test of time as well–since they still hold rich meaning and beauty and are still in use today (seeing how your father and brother have tattoos of this design).

  2. I love how you connected the symbol on the stones to your family’s own tattoos, which I too always saw as a symbol of Celtic peoples. In popular culture, the triple spiral has grown synonymous with Ancient Celtic/Druidic peoples (I even have a pin version of it that I got at the gift shop of the National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin!), so I was amazed to see it pre-dated that culture, and maintains its position as a signifier of Irish heritage to this day!

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