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Sun-Earth Day Presents: Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge

Technology Through Time: Issue #10, Newgrange

Whether a temple or a grave, ancient people often brought their mundane activities into cosmic synchrony - a cadence of time and space frozen into stone.


Drogheda - County Meath, Ireland
Latitude: 53d 41' North
Longitude: 6d 28' East


The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. The tomb is about 250-feet in diameter and 44-feet high. It was discovered in 1699 and was been excavated and rebuilt between 1962 and 1975. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 stones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art with solar motifs. Outside the tomb, 12 out of the original estimated 38 large boulders up to 8-feet high form a ring of about 340-feet in diameter. The stone circle was built about 1000 years later than the original structure, dating probably from the Beaker period. The 58-foot long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb would have taken a work force of 300 laborers at least 20 years.


The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn from the 19th to the 23rd of December.



Image Gallery:

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Technology Through Time Bulletin Board Activity

This bulletin board activity is designed to focus student attention on the role that sun watching has played in humankind's survival through time. As part of this display you may wish to use your own world map ordownload one we have created for you.

Related Newgrange Links

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