The most impressive Stone Age tomb in Europe stands on a hill above the Boyne's fertile valley, part of a huge prehistoric cemetery known as Brugh na Boinne. It is older than Stonehenge, and even older than the Egyptian pyramids.
A pear shaped mound, Newgrange reaches 36ft high and about 300ft across, and is surrounded at the base by large stones engraved with geometric patterns. The entrance to the tomb is marked by an ornately carved, 10 ton stone. The semicircular courtyard, faced with granite, has been reshaped to accommodate the flow of people. A mile away from Newgrange lie the dramatic passage-tombs of Dowth to the north-east and Knowth to the north-west. With two burial chambers set back to back, and with 17 satellite graves, Knowth is more complex then Newgrange, although Dowth is larger. Dowth is not open to the public.
Solar Observatory, Sunlight pierces the gloom of Newgrange, whose passage and inner chambers are aligned with the rays of the rising sun of December 21, the Winter solstice.
A Royal Grave, Inside the tomb at Newgrange, 60 Standing stones 5-8ft high line the passage and three chambers. The tomb was probably a burial place for kings, whose ashes were placed in large stone bowls in the Chambers.
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