Newgrange is the most visited archaeological site in Ireland. Every year around 250,000 people come to the see this Neolithic passage tomb. This new book is a guide designed for the general reader with an interest in Irish prehistory. It explains the results of decades of excavation and analysis in one volume. It is written in a lively style that seeks at the same time to be authoritative and thorough.
Newgrange is simply the best example of a passage tomb in Western Europe and its solstice phenomenon, in particular, has made it famous throughout the world. It is also conveniently located only an hour from Dublin. While it is the best-known ancient site in Ireland, many aspects of Newgrange are not clearly understood, other aspects are just taken for granted. As two archaeologists with a lifetime of experience in the Boyne Valley we shared with most visitors the same uncertainties about the tomb; why is there a three metre high quartz wall around its entrance, how does the roof box work, what was the inspiration for its art and architecture? We chose to write this book in order to present our own personal interpretation of an intricate and often hotly debated story.
The book is arranged in such a way as to replicate a visit to the site. It pauses over points of art and construction that the visitor will not have had time to examine in detail on a conventional guided tour. Newgrange is the synthesis of years of excavation and research at home and abroad; from the detailed reports stemming from the excavations of M.J. O'Kelly to current international debate about its construction and reconstruction. This is the first book on Newgrange to draw on O'Kelly's private papers and to incorporate the results of more recent and as yet unpublished excavations. This book will clarify many complex issues that have been addressed in widely scatted fora, using original illustrations to assist the reader. It places the monument in its broader cultural context. Our search for the origins of Newgrange took us to Brittany, Iberia (Spain and Portugal), Malta, the Orkney Islands and Wales and has enriched our understanding of its place in European prehistory.
Geraldine Stout is an archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. She is author of Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne (Cork University Press, 2002). Matthew Stout lectures on the history of the Irish landscape, early medieval Ireland, medieval archaeology, and international historiography at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra. He is co-editor of The Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (Cork University Press, 1997).