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The history of Ireland is shrouded in mystery. According to Irish-Celtic mythology, the earliest inhabitants were the Tuatha Dé Danann. These early people reportedly constructed Newgrange, or Brú na Bóinne, in County Meath as a burial place for their chief, Dagda Mor.
Newgrange is one of the best examples in Ireland and Western Europe of a passage-grave or passage-tomb, which is illuminated each year precisely at the time of the Winter Solstice. It is an astronomical fact that at certain times during its 19-year cycle, the Moon shares the same declination, and therefore the same rising azimuth, as the midwinter sunrise. Therefore, there are times during the Moon’s cycle when it too is visible inside Newgrange.
Newgrange was constructed about 3200 BC, making it 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt and 1000 years more ancient than Stonehenge. It sits on the top of an elongated ridge within a bend in the Boyne River about five miles west of the town of Drogheda. The entire mound contains an estimated 200,000 tons of material, and its construction would indicate the presence of master builders with an intricate knowledge of astronomy. The stone passage, chamber, and corbelled roof of Newgrange were constructed without the use of mortar. The addition of grooves onto the top surface of the passage roof stones shows that the builders were aware of the need to redirect water seepage from the cairn and therefore keep the passage water-proofed.
Legend tells us that the foundations of Christianity were laid here at Newgrange. And archaeologists have discovered at least 21 Roman coins and pendants at the site that are in mint condition.
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