Winter Solstice 2007
Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the
Above the entrance to the passage of the Newgrange mound there is a opening
called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the
roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole
chamber is dramatically illuminated.
The Winter Solstice webcast
from Newgrange was
broadcast on the mornings of Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd December 2007. The
conditions were excellent on the morning of the 21st, the rising sun illuminated the passage and chamber
between 8:58am and 9:15am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). On the morning of
the 22nd the rising sun was blocked by a low bank of cloud, the sun cleared the
cloud by 9:30am, too late to illuminate the chamber.
Clear conditions mean another perfect dawn watch at Newgrange
An article by Noelle Jennings, printed in the Meath Chronicle
in December 2007.
A clear frosty morning ensured perfect conditions at Newgrange last Friday
morning as the sun illuminated the chamber of the world-famous megalithic tomb
on the 40th anniversary of the discovery of the phenomenon. It was on the 21st
December 1967 that Professor Michael O'Kelly
discovered the spectacular phenomenon for the modern world
when he witnessed the sunlight creep through the roof box and light up the
burial chamber of the 5,000-year-old tomb.
three daughters, Helen, Ann and Eve, were invited along to
witness the illumination for themselves on the 40th anniversary of the moment
their father stood in the chamber and witnessed the spectacle. It was an
emotional and moving experience for them as they recalled their late father
going to Newgrange 40 years before and the impact of his discovery on archaeology.
This year, the ancient site was introduced to the latest in technology so that
the winter solstice spectacle was broadcast live on the internet to hundreds of
thousands of people all over the world. However, such was the demand to view the
solstice, too many hits meant not everybody was able to access the
and many were left disappointed.
Manager of the Brú na Bóinne
centre, Clare Tuffy, said there were so many hits on the Heritage Ireland
website that some people couldn't see it but explained that the
would be available on the Heritage Ireland
website later that day.
She said the conditions on the shortest day of the year "couldn't have been
better" and were "perfect". Ms Tuffy said it was a glorious morning and that
everything had gone according to plan, other than the glitch with the webcast.
However people from as far away as New Zealand had phoned the centre to tell
them they had seen the webcast "loud and clear".
There were 20 people inside the chamber on Friday morning, including Ministers
Noel Ahern and John Gormley, Professor O'Kelly's daughters and winners in the
to pick the lucky few who get inside the chamber to witness the phenomenon.
the megalithic monument, around more than 200 `dawn watchers` had been
gathering from the very early hours to wait for the sun to come up over the hill
on the far side of the Boyne Valley and, this year, they got to see the
spectacle as it was broadcast on the large screen erected outside.
From 8.58am to 9.15am, the winter sun shone through the roof box beginning with
a small shaft of light that culminated in the full illumination of the chamber.
These were many regular `watchers` who gather at Newgrange every year to
experience the dawn on the winter solstice, a sacred time for our megalithic
Others in the burial chamber on Thursday morning included members of the public
whose names were drawn in a raffle for places in the tomb during the solstice
period. This year, the lottery members were Irish but over the course of the six
days when the sun illuminates the tomb, people from Canada, Texas, Missouri and
other places around the world travelled to Meath especially for the experience.
The solstice phenomenon doesn't just occur on the shortest day of the year but
for a number of days either side of the date and `dawn watching` takes place for
a total of six days when members of the public who won their places in the draw
conducted earlier in the year are permitted to enter the passage tomb.
Newgrange Coin Set
The Central Bank of Ireland have issued a Newgrange Coin
. Newgrange is the theme for the 2008 uncirculated Coin Set, the sixth
and final mint set in the 'Heritage of Ireland' series. The set was officially
launched on 21st December 2007 following the
at Newgrange. The cost of
the Newgrange Coin Set is €24 plus postage.
Setting Sun Alignments
The Winter Solstice Setting Sun illuminates the chamber at the nearby
the cairn on Slieve Gullion
in Co. Armagh.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tours
Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour:
Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice,
Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick let a Paschal fire in 433