Newgrange - Ancient Observatory In Ireland
Photograph - Panorama Photo Art
There are some places one visits that simply renders the observer speechless. For me, Newgrange fit that bill. There's a chance I would have stumbled over this site anyway, but it also came recommended by an archaeologist friend. And I entirely understood why as I stood there waiting for my chance to go inside what is sometimes billed as the oldest observatory in the world.
The thing that may amaze some of you is finding out that Newgrange was built on a hill in what is now Ireland before the great pyramids had even been dreamed of. And the opening above the entrance was aligned with the winter solstice, hence the observatory part. That's a lot of precision when you're building with massive stones and meager tools by today's standards.
The difference of course between a site like Newgrange and the Egyptian antiquities is that the Egyptians had hieroglyphs to pass on their stories. We're not looking simply at massive stone monuments. We have the stories that went with them. A site like Newgrange has no written record as we understand it. There's been some discussion that the symbols on the stones may be a coherent symbolic language, but if so nothing that has managed to be deciphered.
So, we have no grand story to share when we stand on a site like this, but it's still wild to stand there and try to reach back and imagine what drove these people. Newgrange is just one of several such sites around the Boyne Valley in modern Ireland. And archaeologists continue to try to uncover the riddle of these chamber tombs.
Note: Newgrane is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.
November 21st, 2012
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