Newgrange is about one hour away from Dublin and is a great destination for a day trip. It is a stone age passage tomb built around 5400 years ago. Visit to Newgrange is by guided tour only. Newgrange is probably the best preserved passage tomb but there are many of such tomb around Ireland. The Irish are proud that Newgrange pre-dates England’s Stonehenge and Eygpt’s Pyramids. We visited Newgrange in October, just a few weeks before they are closed for winter. So do check that they are open when you are visiting.
Start of the tour
Tour starts at the Newgrange and Knowth Visitor Center. Parking is free but there’s a small walk with elevation to the visitor centre. Once tickets are checked by the staff, we are let loose in the exhibition. This is where we learned about the people who built Newgrange and the discovery of Newgrange. The main attraction of the visitor centre is the area that simulates River Boyne while explaining why civilisation thrived along the banks.
As the tour starts with the self guided walk through the exhibition, you don’t have to be dead punctual to the time in the ticket. I think they allow 45 mins for you to walk in the visitor centre.
The staff will also issue wrist band that will determine which bus or tour group we will be in. The staff let us know what time the bus will depart, we must be at the bus stop at that time as the bus will not wait for people. The bus stop is about 10-15 mins walk from the visitor centre, also with a bit of incline. The walk to the bus stop was beautiful as it crosses the River Boyne.
The bus took us the short 10 mins ride to the Newgrange where we start with a short briefing.
Tour of Newgrange
Briefing starts at the old ticketing counter, mainly on safety and what we expect to see in Newgrange. We then took a walk with a bit of incline to the front of the Newgrange passage tomb entrance. A bit of history from our guide and then we are broken into 2 groups as the tomb cannot accommodate all of us at the same time.
We are not allowed to take photos of videos in the tomb and all backpack are to be left outside. This is so that we don’t accidentally damage the tomb while inside.
The passage is narrow and dark, it is a very short uneventful walk to the end of the passage tomb.At the end of the passage is a dome made with stacked rocks. There are 3 chambers at the side with a huge stone where they lay body. The tour guide pointed out despite being built 5400 years ago, the roof have not leaked, the chamber is bone dry. There are also a carvings on the many stone structure in the tomb.
Newgrange was unique in that it’s built so that a sliver of light will shine into the end of the chamber during winter and spring solstice. The building has to be designed very accurately in order for that to happen. On top of that, the people needs to have keen observation of the sun over many years to make the right calculations. During the tour in the chamber, there will be a demonstration on how the light shine in during the solstice. That is by far the most impressing thing during the tour.
After we come out, the next group of people will go in for their tour. That time we took the chance to walk around Newgrange. When all is done the bus will take us back to the visitor centre. There’s a cafe operated by Brambles in the visitor centre and also a gift shop.
We have the OPW Heritage Card therefore the ticket to Newgrange was free. We do have to book a date and time for the visit online and show them the booking at the entrance of the visitor centre. You will need to buy tickets in advance as it is always fully booked so don’t expect to get a ticket by walking in.