Newgrange Lightbox Project
Martin from the RTE
conceived a project to
re-create the Newgrange lightbox, passage and chamber at the
The Lightbox is an opening above the entrance to Newgrange, Archaeologists refer to
it as a roofbox. The Lightbox and passage are aligned to direct the light from
the rising sun around the Winter Solstice down the passage, lighting up the main chamber.
The team assembled by Niall Martin consisted of students from
Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology), an Engineer from
, Archaeologists from
and Student Archaeologists from
(Irish Archaeological Field School).
The project began in July 2009 with the objectives:
Build a working model of the Lightbox, Main Chamber, Passage and Entrance based on Newgrange.
Engineer it without modern technology using lightweight modern materials.
Make it work on the same dates around the Winter Solstice as Newgrange does.
- Build it beside Newgrange - life size.
- Produce a TV Documentary to be televised on the Nationwide Programme in January 2010.
On 24th July the team was brought together at Newgrange to make some rudimentary
measurements and learn a bit more about the task.
One intent of the project was to have the Students do as much as possible by
themselves and the other members of the team act as support. This was to be both
a learning exercise as well as an opportunity to expand the students talents.
It was decided to build the structure in wood using foam/polystyrene from
Kingspan to replicate the stones. The Newgrange replica would be constructed at
RTE in Donnybrook and transported to Newgrange coming up to the Winter Solstice.
In consolation with Clare Tuffy the manager at Brú na Bóinne, it was agreed to
build the Newgrange
replica on December 16th on the actual Newgrange site and leave it
there until the morning of December 18th. So there were 2 chances to film the lightbox in action on
the mornings of the 17th and 18th of December.
By 8pm on the 16th of December in total darkness under a starry sky, the
Newgrange replica was complete. Before dawn on the 17th the Team and Film Crew
were on site. By 8.30am some preliminary filming had taken place, now the main
event was approaching. The sky was perfectly clear all around the horizon,
except in the area where the Sun was to rise. Unfortunately the clouds blocked
the sunrise, just when it looked like a lost cause there was a small break in
the clouds and a chink of light reached the back wall of the replica.
The morning of December 18th December was another disappointment with an even
more dense bank of cloud on the horizon at dawn.
A practice run at RTE Donnybrook.
Construction at Newgrange in fading light.
Construction continues after dark.
Testing the lightbox using artificial light.
Disappointment at dawn on December 17th as a bank of cloud blocks the sunrise.
Waiting for the sunrise.
A break in the clouds and a chink of light enters the lightbox.
The Lightbox Project at Newgrange.
The Lightbox Project Team.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tour
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours.
Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire.
Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland.